First off, it has been far too long since I last posted. A few crazy weeks of court hearings zapped what time I usually have to make informative posts to the blog. You have my apologies and my promise to do my best to never go this long without posting again.
Yesterday, two things really caught my attention and reminded me how important it is for parents with minor children to have an estate plan. Specifically, providing for guardianship of their children in their wills.
You may have heard of the controversial British public service announcement (PSA) against texting while driving. It is a very graphic depiction of a severe car accident caused by a person texting while driving due to the graphic nature I am not posting a link to it here). The entire video is troubling to watch, however I was particularly troubled by one scene. A mother and father are in the front seats of the car, severely injured and unconscious (at a minimum). They have a young daughter (maybe 4 or 5 years old) and a baby in the back seat. Both children were properly in to their safety seats and had no injuries, and the daughter keeps asking her mom and dad to “wake up.” As a dad, it broke my heart. As an attorney it gave me a renewed sense of purpose to strongly encourage couples to plan for such an accident even though we all hope it never happens. Hopefully the parents had a proper estate plan that provided guardians for their children and financial assistance for their care. If not, a court would end up determining who would care for their children!
I also watched the movie “No Reservations,” starring Catherine Zeta Jones (CZJ) and Aaron Eckhart (AE). I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t watched it, so stop reading here if you don’t want to know what happened. The short version is that CZJ’s adult sister dies in a car accident leaving a young daughter (maybe 7 or 8 years old). It appears that the sister did proper planning, as there was documentation from a law firm stating that she wanted CZJ to be the guardian, and she indeed became the guardian. The unique twist in this situation is that the sister was a single parent. The father was never involved in the child’s life. What would have happened if she didn’t have a proper estate plan? I don’t know exactly, but there is a real likelihood that the daughter would have ended up with her father as guardian given that the law favors having a biological parent guardian. Certainly this is not what the sister would have wanted.
Both of these situations could have ended up horribly for the children’s future care. If you have minor children, you owe it to them to have a proper estate plan in place so that they are properly cared and provided for if, heaven forbid, you pass away. If you have questions, please feel free to call or email me to schedule an appointment. And give your kids a hug . . . they are a precious gift!