Along with a new school year comes all the forms and contact sheets and other information you need to give to your child’s school or day care provider. I wanted to share this article by my colleague, Danielle G. Van Ess, that discusses what might happen if those forms are ever used. Her original post appears here.
Danielle and I do estate planning thousands of miles apart but our approach is very similar. For parents of young children, both of us recommend naming temporary guardians (among other things!).
In Ontario, the only way to appoint a guardian of your children is by a Will.
In my practice, I have developed a designation form for parents who are doing Wills and Powers of Attorney or trusts with me to appoint temporary guardians. There is no law in Ontario that says parents can do that, but as a mom myself, I want the people I trust to take care of my children to have a a signed, witnessed and notarized document giving them authority to care for my children.
I give the temporary guardian form to the parents and to the people they have appointed so that if emergency strikes, everyone knows what to do and who is to take care of the children. I also recommend that caregivers and schools be provided with a copy of the form so they know who to contact.
Thankfully, none of my forms have ever been used (because that would mean something horrible would have happened to a client), but my hope is that in an emergency, the authorities will respect the designation made by the parents and the children of my clients will always be with people they know, love and trust.
Read on to find out more from Danielle.
What You Need To Know About School Emergency Contact Forms
by Danielle G. Van Ess
If your child is starting preschool, daycare, or elementary school, you’ve probably already been asked to complete the school’s emergency contact form. The school will release your child to your emergency contact in the event of an emergency, but would that form be sufficient if the emergency lasted more than a couple hours? None of us wants to think about it, but if we should happen to be involved in a serious accident, would our neighbors who kindly offered to serve as a temporary emergency contact on that school form be legally empowered to care for our children overnight? What about for a couple days or even a week? Would we want to ask them to do so and would they want to accept that kind of burdensome responsibility for our children, particularly in a time of crisis for our children?
If you have already legally named temporary emergency guardians for your minor children, you should provide a copy of that legal instrument to your child’s school along with their emergency contact form. You should also be sure your child’s named emergency guardians have copies in their possession to bring with them if possible if they are ever called upon to serve that way. You should also have documentation in your possession and on your person at all times alerting emergency responders to the fact that you have minor children and directing them to contact the named guardians with legal authority to care for the children. Finally, you need to provide information in a readily accessible format and keep it in a handy place and discuss with all of your children’s caregivers whom to call and in what order in the event of an emergency.
Perhaps that sounds like overkill or a bit daunting but I assure you it’s really very simple. And just consider the minimal extra effort required on your part to avoid the possibility of your children being temporarily placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families (a/k/a “DCF” or “the agency formerly known as DSS” a/k/a CPS).
That’s why this comprehensive temporary emergency planning for minor children is part of every estate plan I create with my clients. This is my focus and my passion; it’s taking my motherly perspective and applying it to the estate planning context.
If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your minor children in the event of an emergency no matter where you or they are, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (781) 740-0848.
Danielle’s original post appears here.