Monday, March 12, 2007

Don't Be Anna - Name Guardians for Minor Children

Category: Estate Planning

Continuting our series of what we can learn from the Anna Nicole Smith situation, she did not name a Guardian for her daughter. Putting the unique questions of paternity aside, this case highlight why all parents must have Wills.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating - If you have minor children, you MUST HAVE A WILL TO NAME GUARDIANS IF YOU DIE. If you do not have a Will, you HAVE NO GUARDIANS.

General statistics say 7 out of 10 people don't have a Will. The reason I most frequently hear when I ask why people don't have a Will at semiars: "I don't have enough assets." My response: "Do you have children?" Because if you do, the Will is the only place that you can name a Guardian. The reason I most frequently hear about why there is no Guardian: "We can't decide between Relative A and Relative B." While this is a hard decision, as parents it is one you need to make. If you can't decide, you expect a judge who doesn't know you, your family, your children or your value to make a better decision? And, if you are concerned enough that your children aren't raised by Relative A, shouldn't you make provisions so that can't happen? Putting it in the hands of a court is like playing roulette with your children's rearing. A clear case of "Don't Be Anna".


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At 4/02/2007 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious about NJ law. In Oklahoma nomination of guardian by a parent for a minor child must be "by will or by other written instrument...." Our practice is to name a guardian of a minor in the partent's durable power of attorney and their will, thus it is effective both when parent is incapacitated AND after death. Some Court's have ruled a nomination in Will is ONLY effective upon a parent's death.

Scott B.


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