Last night after we (finally!) got our children to bed, my husband and I collapsed on the couch to watch a few minutes of television (catch up on our DVR’ed shows—as those of you with children understand) and unwind from another beautiful crazy day of being working parents of three small children. We tuned into ABC for one of our regular escapes from reality, Modern Family.
It was (as usual) a hilarious episode about a serious issue: who will raise your children should you and your partner/spouse die? Cam and Mitchell want to pick the best relatives to raise their adopted daughter Lily if, “God Forbid,” something happened to them, “God Forbid” (their words). In typical sitcom fashion, they go through the likely candidates and, of course, as soon as they think they have the “ones” something happens that makes them rethink their choice. While Hollywood made it cute and funny, it is a serious issue, and probably one of the more difficult estate planning questions.
In California, if you do not choose guardians for your children, the court will choose who will raise your children through a process called a Guardianship.
Think of all the people who love your children, and who you love. Who would do the best job as parents should you not be there? All of these people will have the opportunity to go before a judge with reasons why they should raise your children. Think about your family dynamic now, do you think everyone could agree on who should raise the children? More importantly, do you want to put your family and friends in this situation? Besides the devastation of losing you, now your family is left to pick up the pieces of raising your children. For more information on California Guardianship: California Court Self Help Website
When you create a will you designate guardians for your children. This will avoid the court appointing guardians, and you can change your will with a codicil should you change your mind.
And Cam and Mitchell? It’s Hollywood, they came to a conclusion and everything was left nice and tidy—may all our decisions be that easy!