The following series of posts contain articles posted at Kaboose.com, featuring an interview with my colleague and fellow Personal Family Lawyer, Kimberly Hegwood. If you have any questions or want to speak with me about these issues, please call me at 770-425-6060.
Talking about legal planning for your family is never something up
there on your list of fun things to do. However, finding yourself
without a plan can be scary so there’s no time like the present to sit
down and just do it.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you
have young children, you need to think about this. In the long run,
there’s no better peace of mind than knowing you have hammered out the
details of how you want your kids to be taken care of, long term as
well as within the first twenty four hours of something happening.
We’ve asked Kimberly Hegwood of Hegwood & Associates, P.C., a
personal family lawyer, mom of two, and a licensed estate planning
attorney in the state of Texas, to look at some
not-so-uncommon-scenarios and tell us how parents can best to prepare
Scenario #1, You Don’t Make it Home
and your husband are in, God-forbid, a car accident driving home from
work together. Both of you is either seriously incapacitated or worse.
Your child is at preschool or home with a babysitter. You do not have
wills in place. What happens to the children in the next 24 hours? What
happens in the month following? What happens long-term?
The problem with traditional estate planning is that there is no
provision for temporary guardians for your children, which results in a
planning gap. Your children may be at home with a sitter or at day care
when something happens. Since they haven’t heard from you, your care
giver may end up having to call the police. Once the police are called,
if the babysitter or daycare provider cannot show documentation that
they have legal authority to care for your children, the police have no
alternative but to call Child Protective Services (CPS). If that
happens your family may have to spend thousands of dollars to gain
custody of your children.
Since you don’t have wills, family members may end
up battling over custody rights, and a judge who does not know you or
your children, will determine who will raise your children for you.
What can you do to avoid this scenario?
Not only do you need to have a will or a trust, a medical power of
attorney, statutory durable power of attorney and directive to
physicians, but you need temporary guardianship papers for your
In order to make sure your ducks are in a row, you
should find an attorney that suits your needs. An estate planning
attorney usually knows how to protect your family from this happening.
A Personal Family Lawyer (PFL) is just such a lawyer. A good PFL can
help plan for the gap that others may miss. It’s important to put in
writing not only whom you want to raise to raise your children, but
those that you don’t want to be considered as well. This way a judge
will know that you have considered all possibilities. Make sure you
talk to the people you’d like to have raise your children as well and
clearly state your preferences for them in writing.