01
Feb2021
Missouri Guardian

Naming Guardians In Your Will…

  • By Legacy Law Center
  • 129
Missouri Guardian
Missouri Guardian

 

YET ANOTHER REASON TO CREATE AN ESTATE PLAN:  NAMING GUARDIANS IN YOUR WILL

There are many reasons to create an estate plan and one of the most important is to name guardians for your minor children if you and your spouse were to pass away.

This article will discuss four reasons why naming a guardian in your estate plan Missouri is vital.

#1        BY HAVING TO NAME A GUARDIAN IN YOUR WILL, YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK YOUR CHOSEN GUARDIANS IF THEY WILL ACT.

It would seem obvious to most people that they would ask their chosen guardians for their children if they will serve as guardian before they include them in the documents.  However, believe it or not, far too many people never discuss this with the people or persons they have chosen to serve.

In creating an estate plan, however, you want to make sure the people you’ve named will act.  Serving as guardians is an especially large commitment and one that far too many people promise they will do but never contemplate how that would change their lives.

#2        BY NAMING A GUARDIAN IN YOUR WILL, YOU ARE LETTING YOUR WISHES BE KNOWN AS THE PARENT(S).

In Missouri, anyone can file documents to be appointed the guardian for a minor child.  The problem that can arise is where a person passes away with a minor child and has not named someone in their estate plan or never created an estate plan with a wills lawyer St. Charles.  Now imagine that the child is five years old and is close to not only her grandparents, but others and multiple parties want to be named guardian.

That could obviously be a disaster as competing guardianship petitions would be filed and the guardianship would thus be contested, perhaps for months or years.  No one wants that.

Naming a guardian is simple.  You have a lawyer create a document and you, as the biological parent, state the person or persons you want to be the guardian.  In most cases, barring some reason the person named is not qualified to serve, this will hold tremendous sway with the court.

#3        YOU CAN CREATE OTHER DOCUMENTS TO PROVIDE FOR THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR CHILDREN.

By naming a guardian in your will, you can take the opportunity to also name a conservator and/or a trustee to manage the funds you are leaving for your minor children.  Naming a guardian is only half the job.  Putting a person in charge of your trust that leaves money to that child for their care is also a big reason.  In creating those provisions, you can state how and when funds left in the trust can be used to care for the child and at what age they will receive their inheritance.

#4        YOU CAN PROVIDE ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS TO YOUR CHOSEN GUARDIAN ABOUT YOUR WISHES FOR THEIR CARE AND UPBRINGING.

Very often I have clients who not only want to create a legal document to name a guardian for their minor children, but to provide more specific instructions about how and where they should live, where they should go to school.

While I do not draft these documents, the creation of these instructions by my clients on their own often provides greater peace of mind to them, knowing they’ve given an ample set of directions to the named guardian so they will not be overwhelmed or feel completely unsure about how to move forward.

Clients often create these directions in letter form and highlight different things about where they should go to school, wishes as to what activities they should participate in and outside of school, specific information about the children as to their personalities, habits, their strengths and, of course, their weaknesses.  The more information you provide to your chosen guardian, the better, at least in most cases.

The standard Missouri Petition For Appointment of Guardians can be found here:

https://www.courts.mo.gov/hosted/circuit11/Documents/RESPONDENT%20%20PETITION.pdf

CONCLUSION

If you have a minor child, you must have an estate plan.  There’s simply no way to risk the future of your children by not making it crystal clear who you want to be their guardian if you were to pass away.