If you have minor children, the odds of something happening to you while they are still young are not quite as high as the odds of winning the big Mega Lottery, but they are still pretty high. Unlike the small cost of a lottery ticket, however, the cost of not having an estate plan for parents of minor children is astronomical. You won’t pay the costs; your children will. Also unlike the lottery, they will only pay the costs if their number hits.
When parents do not make plans for who will take care of their children in case the parents pass away prematurely, a Probate Court has to hold evidentiary hearings about who the best guardian will be. If the parents have chosen a guardian ahead of time, then the court will give great weight to the parents’ choice. But, the court can’t do that if the parents haven’t made a choice. The court has to make a decision on its own. In most cases, it will be a family member, however, it might not be the family member the parents would have chosen.
Do not play this reverse lottery with your children’s lives. It is doubtful that anything will happen to you. However, the costs are far too high to take that risk.
The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.