Details matter. Sam and Lara were recently in our office updating their estate plan. Lara asked one of those all-important “what if” questions related to their grandchildren. She wanted to know what would happen to the children if tragedy befell both parents while the kids were in school.
Lara’s concern is valid. She’d recently heard a friend’s nightmare story related to school, “emergency cards,” and legal guardians.
Can family members pick up the kids from school?
The scenario could play out in many ways; consider this very real possibility. Josh and Katy attend their local grade school. Their parents, on a short visit to a neighboring town, are expected back by noon. Tragically, they are killed on the return trip.
An estate plan had been well prepared several years ago, naming aunt Janice and uncle Paul as legal guardians. Aunt Janice goes to the school to pick up the kids, but the school won’t release them. She was not listed on the school’s emergency card. Instead, it was shown to be the babysitter, who often cared for them after school.
Naming guardians isn’t enough to avoid social services
Naming trusted family members or friends is standard practice when it comes to estate planning. But it’s not the only important step. When it comes to schools, churches or other institutions, emergency contact information and other detailed instructions need to match your estate documents.
Emergency documentation serves us well, making sure that children don’t end up in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, that requires us to pay close attention to the details. In the case of Josh and Katy, the danger is that they could temporarily be placed under the care of social services at the least opportune time.
If you haven’t yet done it this year, don’t delay in verifying and updating the emergency records with various institutions, especially the schools.
Get legal guardians and others prepared
The devil, they say, is in the details. The best outcomes are the result of solid planning and great follow-through. Here’s a step-by-step example of how to be sure everything is well in order with respect to children, legal guardians, and emergency documents with various institutions.
• Early in your estate planning process, consider the best possible legal guardians
• Before naming them in your estate documents, have a discussion and get their permission
• After completing your estate plan, provide named legal guardians with copies of relevant documents and proper emergency instructions
• List the schools, churches and other entities that might require emergency information related your children
• Consider everyone, other than legal guardians, like babysitters or other family members who might need permission to pick up your children
• Verify that each institution or organization on the list has updated details
• Notify regular babysitters and close family members regarding your instructions
Estate planning with great follow-through is the key
It’s never to early to create your estate plan. Not just for the wealthy, estate planning is the tool used by people of all ages and situations to ensure that their wishes are honored, and that the interests of their loved ones are protected.
What are your estate goals?
Quinn Estate & Elder Law takes a holistic approach to helping people accomplish their estate goals. Are you confident that everything is in order? Want to know more? Call us today for a FREE ANALYSIS 636-686-6790