If you've been reading our blog, then you know that there are many aspects to an estate plan. Oftentimes the focus is on physical assets, such as money, real estate, and personal property, but it can also include powers of attorney and health directives that can instruct other as to how to act in the event that incapacitation strikes. For New Yorkers who have children, there is a whole other consideration that must be considered when creating an estate plan.
This involves how one's children will be cared for in the event of death. Usually, individuals name someone who has agreed to serve as their children's guardian. Therefore, it is assumed that upon death those named individuals will automatically slide into a parental role. However, the transfer of rights isn't automatic. Although it may not take long for a long-term guardianship to go into effect, the amount of time could be significant enough to have a profound impact on one's child.
This is because without legal documentation detailing where a child should stay in the immediacy of a parent's death, the child may be turned over to the state for placement, which may include consideration of foster care. For many, the thought of a child having to go into an unfamiliar foster home after being traumatized by a parent's death is too much to bear. This is why when an individual is developing or modifying his or her estate plan, careful consideration should be given to who will care for a child until guardianship can officially take effect.
These considerations often fall through the cracks of estate planning, but they are often of critical importance. This is why it is imperative that New Yorkers seek help from an attorney who is skilled in this area of the law. Even though some people think they can estate plan on their own with mere assistance of some self-help books and the Internet, the truth of the matter is that those individuals often make mistakes that leave their loved ones and their estate at risk. Don't take the chance. Find peace of mind by working with a competent legal professional when addressing your estate plan.