Hopefully, your family never faces the prospect of you dying young and while you still have minor children at home. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to the length of our lives. An understandable question a parent with minor children has is “what happens to my children if I die when they are minors?” There are a number of points and issues you need to understand when it comes to the matter of dying when you’ve minor aged children.
The Other Parent Is Alive and Involved in the Children’s Lives
In most cases, the question about dying with minor children really is what happens you die and the other parent has either predeceased you in death or dies at the same time you do. The matter of what happens if you die and the other parent is alive tends to be fairly easy. If the other parent is your spouse or otherwise actively is involved in the children’s lives, that person assumes full parental responsibility for the children.
If you create a last will and testament, you can include specific bequests or gifts in the instrument for your children. You can also include a provision regarding the care of your children should you and your spouse die at the same time. However, and has been stated, if the other parent is living and is active in the lives of children (meaning you are married or divorced and the other parent participates in lives of the children), that person assumes full legal responsibility for them.
The Other Parent Is Alive but Not Involved in the Children’s Lives
If you’re a single parent, or other parent is absent from the lives of your children for one reason or another, you do need to make proactive plans regarding their care in the event you die while they are still minors. A primary way in which you can accomplish this task is to write a last will and testament.
In your will, you can designate a person or persons who you desire to become the guardians and conservators of your children if you die while they are minors. The guardian component involves designated a person or persons to be responsible for the day-to-day needs of your children. Th conservatorship element involves designating an individual or individuals to oversee the finances of your children.
Your children may have money that needs to be protected by a conservatorship following your death. This may include:
- Money your children inherit from you
- Money received by your children from a life insurance policy
- Money from an insurance settlement or lawsuit (if you died as a result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence)
The Other Parent Is Deceased
If the other parent of your children predeceases you, it is important for you to delineate how they will be cared for if you die while they are minors. You will need to designate a guardian and conservator for your children in the same manner that was described a moment ago.
When it comes to designating a person or persons to care for your children if you and the other parent die while they are minors, people oftentimes turn to other family members. Indeed, laws pertaining to the welfare of children in the United States maintain a preference for a child whose parents have died to be in the care of a relative whenever possible.
When it comes to taking care of children when parents have passed on, the most common caregivers are grandparents and aunts or uncles. Another objective is to do everything possible to keep the children together and in one household whenever the natural parents end up deceased.
Create a Trust for Your Children
Another tool you can use to protect the interests and welfare of your children if you die while they are still minors is to create a trust for their benefit. A trust can become the primary source of financial support for your children, depending on the assets available to fund the trust itself.
Importance of Life Insurance
Finally, when it comes to estate planning when you have children who are minors, you need to consider seriously obtaining and maintaining appropriate life insurance coverage. When you are the parent of minor children, you likely are at a point in your life at which you can obtain a suitable amount of life insurance for a reasonable cost. In other words, it’s a solid investment in the future of your children to protect them against the relatively remote chance that you might die before their reach adulthood.
As estate planning attorney can assist you in ascertaining the best approach to protect your children in the event you die prematurely. The first step in retaining an estate planning lawyer is to schedule an initial consultation, an appointment designed to evaluate your situation and recommend a course of action.