As a Cornwall and area wills and estate planning lawyer, I can’t stress enough how important it is for all parents to create a comprehensive plan that will protect their children should the unthinkable occur.
But what happens if you are divorced and can’t come to an agreement with your ex-spouse as to who should raise your kids if something happens to you? Should you go ahead and document your own guardianship wishes anyway? And just whose wishes would hold up in court?
In most cases, if your child’s biological parent is still living at the time of your death and you share custody, your children will be raised by the surviving parent, unless there is some clear reason why that should not happen.
There is nothing you can do about this, unless you (or someone else after your death) can prove that the child’s other biological parent is unfit to raise your child and make a compelling case as to why your guardianship nominations should be honored under the circumstances.
Examples of this might include a severe drug addiction, criminal past or a history of abuse.
However, if this is unlikely, the next best thing to do is name guardians anyway so that your wishes for the care of your children will be known and taken into consideration should your ex-spouse should also pass away before your kids reach the age of 18.
This is especially important in the event your ex-spouse did not legally document his or her guardianship wishes upon passing, as your wishes would then be given priority over, say, an unwilling step-parent (just think back to the Cinderella story for a chilling example of this).
Finally, if you are a single parent and have concerns not only about guardianship, but also concerning your ex-spouse handling any assets you would leave to your kids if you passed away first, I encourage you to meet with an Cornwall and area wills and estate planning lawyer right away so you can protect such funds and ensure they are used for your children’s care only in your absence.
If you need help getting started with this, please feel free to give our office a call at 613-933-7720 and request a Peace of Mind Planning Session. These sessions are normally $500, but you can come in free of charge with the mention of this article. Call 613-933-7720 to reserve your spot.
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Michele R.J. Allinotte is the owner of Allinotte Law Office Professional Corporation in Cornwall, Ontario and she helps her clients make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their businesses. Her practice focuses on the areas of business law, estate planning and real estate. Visit www.YourCornwallLawyer.com to get her FREE Peace of Mind Personal Inventory to make sure that your family has all the information they need.