Most Californians think of estate planning as something that is done as they grow older and prepare for the distribution of assets upon their own death. While this is true in many instances, estate planning should actually occur at a much younger age and be modified over time as assets are obtained and relationships change. This is especially true for those with children.
Why? Because those who fail to address who will care for their children upon their passing may leave their children in the middle of a battle for guardianship or adoption. In some of these instances, the state has to step in to ensure that these children are legally protected. Sometimes this means placement in foster care.
By utilizing a will to address this issue, though, an individual can help guide the courts in determining who should serve as the child's guardian. It is important to note that the court has the ultimate say in these matters, and its decision is always based on the child's best interests, so one's choice of guardian may be overstepped. In most cases, though, the court will give a will considerable weight. Because serving as a guardian can be a monumental task, it is wise to discuss the matter with a potential guardian before naming him or her in one's will.
Most people who engage in estate planning want to ensure that their children, whether adult or minor, are well taken care of moving forward. What that looks like can vary depending on the circumstances at hand, though, including the ages of those children. This is why estate planning requires customization. By working closely with a legal professional, Californians can ensure that they utilize the legal vehicles necessary to ensure that their estate and their loved ones are as fully protected as is possible given the circumstances. Therefore, those who are thinking about creating an estate plan or modifying an existing one should think about reaching out to an attorney who is adept in this field.