Have you ever wondered what it would be like to receive a knock at the door after your loved ones are late coming home? As you open the door, the first thing you see is the small reflection of light from a police officer’s badge.Now imagine that you are not answering the door, but your babysitter is answering the door after you are late returning:
- What would the babysitter do?
- What should the babysitter do?
If the babysitter doesn’t know what to do, your children will probably end up in the government’s care. The state does its best, but few people want their children cared for by the government, whether for three hours or three years. We never believe this can happen to us or our children, but it can.
You may have named a guardian in an estate plan, but does the babysitter know this? What if your named guardian does not live nearby? These concerns should all be addressed in a good Kids Protection Plan.
What is a good Kids Protection Plan? A good Protection Plan names permanent and temporary guardians and includes instructions and directions for your guardian, caregivers and your children. In choosing guardians for your children, consider who should serve and in what order. In reviewing your list, there may be individuals who should not serve; provisions should be made to exclude these people. All these things need to be considered when making your Kids Protection Plan.
Let your choice be known. You need to make the choice for your children’s guardian. If you leave that choice to the court, you might not like the outcome. The court will invite input from your family, but this does not guarantee the result you want. They are your children. You need to make sure your input is included in selecting the guardian.
What to consider. The following are some factors to be considered when choosing a guardian for your minor children:
- Family Relationship
- Education Value
- Moral Values
- Child-rearing Philosophy
- Social Values
- Potential Guardian’s Qualities, e.g.
- Demonstrable Affection
- Age and Stamina
- Ability to fulfill time commitment
- Willingness to Serve
- Ability to meet Physical Demands of Childcare
As you review your potential list, always consider your children first. They are the future and need your protection whether you provide it personally or through others. There fore, consider the amount of love they will receive from the guardian. In making this selection consider whether the potential guardian; (a) has other children, (b) has the ability to treat your children the same as their own children, and (c) has no potential conflicts of interest.
Money considerations should not dictate your decision. Ideally, you will have incorporated a well-drafted Estate Plan to provide sufficient assets for your children’s care. If your current assets do not satisfy that need, you can incorporate life insurance in your Estate Plan to provide your children with the financial stability they need and deserve. Therefore, whether someone has the financial means to care for your children should not dictate your decision.
Create a list. The best way to start your Protection Plan is to write a list. Start by naming all the people you could consider, both family and friends. Then reduce the list to your top choices. If you are married, both you and your spouse need to be involved in making the decision. Hopefully, you will end up with a top choice and two alternate choices. You will also need to consider whether to include a temporary guardian who would be available immediately. If your children are old enough, seek their input.
Now that you have created your list, let all your children know your choice. Consider letting other family members know, too. We have all seen the commercials of children gathered around to find out what was in the will. This is not what you want. Generally, you don’t want a surprise at whom you selected as your children’s guardian.
We recommend that you write instructions to your guardians. These can be detailed or just provide general direction. In writing these instructions, consider whether to leave your legacy with your children. A legacy can be priceless to your children and explains to them your dreams and desires for them.
Furthermore, make sure you give instructions to your babysitter or caregiver explaining what to do if something happens to you. The first thing they should be asked to do is to call the temporary guardian, or if non, the permanent guardian. The guardians will have been informed of their selection and will have copies of the documents nominating them. This call should be made before calling the authorities. The guardian will have received instructions as to what to do to help ensure that your children are not placed in the state’s control.
Don’t leave your children’s future to chance; take action to protect their future. A good Kids Protection Plan will not only include provisions for temporary and permanent guardians, but instructions to your guardians, babysitters or caregivers. Generally, a Kids Protection Plan is incorporated in a full Estate Plan, but it can stand-alone. The key is to act while you can.