In Missouri, when most people think of the purpose of a Last Will and Testament they focus on the division of estate assets upon the death of the testator, or person executing the Will. While your Will certainly does allow you to decide how your estate assets will be handled when you die it does something even more important for parents of minor children – allow you to nominate a guardian. Nominating a guardian for your minor children can only be done in your Will, making the creation of an estate plan even more important for parents of minor children than it is for anyone else.
To understand why guardianship in St Louis Missouri is such an important aspect of creating a Will, it helps to understand what happens if you die intestate, or without a valid Will in place. If the other biological parent survived you he or she will likely gain custody of your minor children; however, in the absence of the other biological parent a guardian must be appointed to care for your children. In that case, a court must decide who to appoint as your child’s guardian. Your Will is your only opportunity to let it court know who you would appoint as guardian if you were alive to do so. The court will typically place a great degree of importance on your nomination as this is the only indication the court has of your wishes.
When deciding who to nominate as guardian for your minor child(ren), take the following into consideration:
- Familiarity – choosing someone with whom your children already have an existing relationship will make an already difficult situation a little bit easier.
- Proximity – when possible, choose a guardian who lives close by or who is willing to relocate to prevent your children from being uprooted from familiar surroundings at such an emotional time.
- Financial stability – your guardian should either be financially able to provide for your child or you should leave enough assets behind to provide for them in your estate plan.
- Beliefs, parenting philosophies – consider your nomination’s parenting philosophies and beliefs. Are they similar to yours? Ideally, you will choose someone who will raise your child in much the same way you would.
- Desire – never assume that someone is willing to raise your child even if you have a very close relationship. Always discuss the issue first before nominating the person in your Will.
Executing a Will that includes the nomination of a guardian for your minor children will give you the peace of mind to know that your children will be well cared for in the event you are not here to care for them yourself.