A Parent’s Most Important New Year’s Resolution: Get a Will

Posted by Charlotte Davis | Jan 01, 2024

Parents don't want to think about what would happen to their kids if something were to happen to the parents.  As a result, many parents put off estate planning and never appoint guardians for their children. 

But sometimes bad things happen and guardians are needed.  Appointing guardians, and back up guardians, is an issue near to my heart.  When I was a child, my parents' best friends were killed in a plane crash and their two daughters (one was best friends with my sister) were orphaned.  These parents actually had a will with appointed guardians, but the named guardians perished in the plane crash too.

Because no alternate guardians were named, the children had to endure a multi-year custody battle while the court figured out who to name as guardians.  In the meantime, the girls were shuttled from one family member to another until a permanent guardian was named.  To this day, my mom tears up when someone brings up this family.  The grief of losing a friend, and then watching helplessly while her friend's poor children were caught in a court battle still haunts her.

The good news is having a plan in place will ensure that your kids stay in the care of people you and your kids know and trust.  No one wants the care of their children to be left up to a random family court judge.  And no one wants their kids to be left in the care of strangers – even for a minute.

Getting a will and appointing guardians for your children can be the most important thing you ever do for your kids.  Here are just a few benefits of having an estate plan:

1. Keep Your Family Out of Court

As shown in my personal story above, if you don't name guardians for your kids, a court will have no guidance or direction on your wishes for your kids.  The court will have to conduct a trial, which takes time and creates unnecessary strife among family members.  Family members may be called to testify about each other.  Your kids may be asked by the court about their desires for a guardian.  The process can be lengthy and stressful. 

The death of a loved one is traumatic enough. Estate planning helps to make your wishes known and remove any guesswork for the court and your loved ones. Harpeth Estate Law can help plan your estate so that your loved ones are taken care of.

2. Protect Your Kids from Foster Care

Have you ever thought what might happen if you and your spouse are killed in a car wreck while your children are home with a babysitter?  The babysitter doesn't have legal authority to care for your kids and it may take days for a judge to hear the case and name a temporary or permanent guardian.  In the meantime, local authorities might place your children into the custody with social services.

But having a will that names permanent guardians, along with instructions for temporary legal guardians who have the immediate legal authority to care for your children until a permanent guardian is appointed by the court, reduces the risk of your children ending up in foster care. 

3. Make Sure Your Legacy Lives On

Every parent has particular values and aspirations they want to instill in their children.  Parents likely have views on their children's religious upbringing, health care, and education.  With each estate plan, Harpeth Estate Law helps parents articulate those desires in a way that provides guidance to their children's guardians so that the parents' legacy can live on, and the children's lives are disrupted as little as possible.

You want comprehensive protection for the people you love the most.  This year make it your New Year's Resolution to get a will.  Schedule a complimentary call to learn more about our process so you can plan your estate and get guardians named for your children.

About the Author

Charlotte Davis

Charlotte Davis brings 20 years of professional experience to Harpeth Estate Law, which she started to help clients set up estate plans that provide for their loved ones and their legacy after death.

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