Planning For Your Children’s Children

You are there sitting at the park, peering at your little child across a mix of mulch, swings and slides. He is yours, from crown to heel – a precious treasure. As you enjoy the moment a dirty little question ("what if I die?"), briefly interrupts. Many parents will dismiss this thought as statistically unlikely, not going to happen or too gruesome to entertain. Yet some will attempt to take the next step. After all, we are talking about their precious treasure. This question should never be answered without considering the following questions:
    1. What happens to my kid(s) if I die before they are 18?
    2. Who will parent them the rest of the way? How will they be parented?
    3. If it is my parent, how old will mom or dad be when my child is a teenager? Will my parent(s) be able to cope with a teenager?
    4. If there is no plan, who do I think the Probate Court will choose to parent my child? Is that person the best option?
    5. If there is no plan, will my child be wise enough to handle their inheritance at 18? Will they need more time to mature?
    6. Are my children emotionally connected enough to their possible guardian to weather a transition?
Allow me to illustrate: Jeff has two sisters. The oldest sister is married with two children. She and her husband are gainfully employed and aiming for the American dream. Jeff and this older sister don’t see eye to eye on just about anything from football to faith. Jeff’s younger sister is finishing her Master’s degree. She works full time and is not married. This sister loves Jeff’s kids. Further, she and Jeff see eye to eye on many things from parenting to faith. If Jeff passes, who will the Court choose: the older, mature sister with a family or the young, inexperienced, single sister? This would be an unintended consequence if Jeff doesn’t have a plan. The treasure is too precious to be left to unintended consequences. In the bare minimum consider a will, trust or special durable power of attorney to help frame the future for your children.