When you decide to put documents in place to care for your loved ones after you are gone, you must make decisions. Many of those decisions carry great weight: a guardian to raise your child, an executor to pay your final bills, an agent to serve as your power of attorney who will handle your finances if you can’t. The biggie is a trustee of a special needs trust who will ensure that your disabled child gets what he or she needs, without jeopardizing government benefits like Medicaid. My pet estate planning clients will stall the entire process because they cannot decide who they trust enough to care for their pet if they die. It can be a gut-wrenching process, and I get it from my own personal experience. But…
As difficult as it is to choose a guardian to raise your child from a pool of family or friends who you don’t truly trust, you must consider the alternative–a judge who you do not know, and who does not know your child or family, who will be forced to decide for you. If this struggle surrounds a caregiver for your pet, numbers show that your pet has a high likelihood of ending up in a shelter. From attorney Jennifer Sawday:
“Perfection is not the goal in estate planning. Yet it is often the first objection. ‘I don’t know who would be the guardian for my kids or who should be the trustee.’ Yeah, I don’t either and neither does the court. You have someone in mind. Put them down. Something is better than nothing in the context of estate planning.” Jen Sawday, TLD Law, Long Beach, California
Something is better than nothing. See my blog post here and here for things to consider in choosing a guardian for your children, and here for a trustee for a special needs trust. Set a deadline with yourself for deciding on two or three people for these roles. Otherwise, your loved ones have a risk of living with the decisions of someone who does not know them.
To get started on putting a plan in place, email me, contact me through my website, or call me. http://www.juliemillslaw.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.