There are many child-related issues that keep me awake at night. Guilt trips of leaving my son behind while on a work trip, my toddler’s hunger strikes in the evening or even failure to understand the reason why my son was too cranky on a particular day. But lately, the importance of naming a guardian for my child in my will and deciding on a prospect had been on my mind a lot.
Making a will is something that has been on the top of my to-do list since the birth of our son, but I have been putting off for more than a year. Of course no one likes to face their own mortality. However, it is imperative that we are prepared for the unpredictable. So finally last weekend my husband and I finished making our wills and appointing a guardian in case something were to happen to us.
My life changed when I lost my dad at 14 years of age. I have seen my mom run around for paper work, settling accounts, finding documents and figuring out everything on her own. Fortunately the entire financial bit was in place due to the proper planning of my parents and we had nothing to worry.
Yet, I still cannot forget my mom’s face and her words to my aunt 19 years back at our home in Mumbai “What would have happened to my children if I was also gone?”
The loss of a parent had taught me from a very young age that there is nothing guaranteed in life. And after becoming a parent myself I want to take all the right steps possible to ensure a secure future for my child /children.
Creating a will is crucial even if you don’t have a lot of money or property to pass along because it is where you designate a guardian for your minor child. In the absence of a will naming a guardian, a court will appoint one, and he or she could be the last person you would ever have chosen. If something were to happen to both the parents, and no official guardians have been appointed, the children could end up in foster care while the court appoints a guardian of its choosing.
Note below are the questions I had before starting the process of creating a will. I thought this might help my readers too if they plan to make their own wills. I am not a legal expert and this information is limited to my research of the country and state I live in. I encourage you to look up online or consult with an attorney in the country or state you reside to understand the legalities and your options.
What is a will?
A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator’s wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator’s death
What happens if you die without a will?
Dying without making a will mean you’ll have no say over who receives your property. State laws will decide. In some states, only 1/2 of one’s assets go to the surviving spouse. Depending on your situation, the rest would go to your children, parents or close relatives. If you have minor children, a judge will decide who cares for them, and the situation may not be ideal.
Remember laws vary from state to state and not all states will automatically place children with a family member, even if they are a grandparent, aunt or uncle. Judges weigh placement based on the best interests of the children. Your kids might have a close and loving relationship with your parents, but if your parents are elderly, the court might decide they’re not up to caring for them, especially if they’re very young (LegalZoom.com).
What is the cost of making a will?
Honestly when I heard about the potential price of failing to make a will, and putting my child’s future in jeopardy, I immediately made one in a period of few days without really caring about the cost. However, the cost of any legal endeavor depends on whether you decide to handle it yourself or use the services of an attorney. You can access free templates online or pay for something more complex, or you could pay an attorney to do it all for you. Whether you use an attorney to draft your will or do it yourself, costs will depend on the complexity of your estate
How does a family pick the right guardian?
Appointing guardians who could offer our children the support and love they would need in a horrible situation is the most important decision in the will making process. It can be also be very emotional and political decision.
I and my husband used a website www.legalzoom.com to create a will. It was very effective and fast. We also consulted our family and friends for more information regarding the will making process. (not sponsored)
You can look at more detailed information here –
In the end I would like to say that the decision of safeguarding our children after we are gone is a crucial one, and one that I dread to think of. Who will be my child’s guardian is too important a decision to leave in the hands of someone who doesn’t know me, or my child, or the values that are important to me. We know our children better than anyone. We are in the best position to make the decisions that will affect their lives.