Protecting your children after your death is vital. Generally, if one parent dies, the other assumes full legal and physical custody without any issues. If both parents perish, a will can determine custody. What happens when a divorced parent passes away?
Divorce can be messy. Not everyone has an amicable co-parenting situation. Sometimes divorced parents don’t share custody of children equally for safety reasons. Sometimes an absent parent is unable or unwilling to parent effectively. Sometimes an absent parent does not have the proper home or income to be a full time custodian.
In the cases where an absent parent is not the ideal primary care giver, it may make sense to create documentation to legally support your custody wishes. It may also make sense to put fiscal parameters in place to support your children financially no matter who has physical custody.
If you can’t support the idea of an ex having primary custody for valid reasons – not simply due to disliking them – you can make a guardian recommendation in your last will and testament. Be sure to list and provide evidence why you are naming the guardian and make sure your will is notarized and that the guardian has their own copy. If your decision is contested, your child may be appointed an attorney to represent them in a custody hearing.
Often times a grandparent will be named as successor guardian. It is important to know that while grandparents are vital for the development and support of a child, there are no built-in grandparent rights. It is important that you take steps to name the people you desire to have access to your children in the event of your death and advocate for their relationship via your will. This will carry great weight with the court.
You may also safeguard your assets and financial support for your children by naming a guardian or fiscal payee other than your ex-spouse to manage funds and make financial decisions on your behalf. Your attorney or financial planner will have information about how to set up a trust or other fiduciary protection.
If you are divorced and do not have a positive relationship with your ex, it is important to safeguard your wishes and protect your child if you die. Take steps to secure their custody and financial stability so you can rest easy knowing they are well cared for.
One of the biggest fears that parents of disabled adults face is not knowing who will care for their children when they die. Parenting disabled adults is a life-long commitment. Safety measures are in place that allows parents to make legal and medical decisions for their adult children despite them being over the age of eighteen.
In some states, a conservatorship or guardianship is the legal means that parents have to give consent for medical treatment, housing authority, and helping their children access whatever they need. Protecting this legal authority is important. Without it there is no authority for giving consent and many disabled adults lack the cognition to give informed consent.
If you are the parent of a disabled adult child, you and your child will benefit from these tips:
Tip #1. Find a successor guardian- Naming a successor guardian is a simple legal task. Taking the initiative to name a successor guardian while you are alive will streamline the process and prevent a break in protection for your adult child. Often times a successor may be an adult sibling or a secondary relative though being related is not a requirement.
Tip #2. Access resources in your community- Many disabled adults have resources available to them such as regional centers. These resources may be able to help with accessing attorneys or other programs that can help protect and serve your adult disabled child.
Tip #3. Begin to think about housing- If your adult disabled child has been living with you, it may be time to explore options outside of your home. There are often group settings or shared housing options available or perhaps there are family members ready to assist. Making a plan before you need it will help make transitions smoother.
Tip #4. Encourage as much independence as possible- Your adult disabled child may have opportunities for employment or social activities through the Opportunity Center or other programs. Foster as much independence as possible while protecting and honoring their limitations. Helping your child be as independent as possible will serve them when you can not be there as their primary care provider.
Families supporting an adult disabled child face unique circumstances in long-range planning. Finding the right support system and getting things in place for when you are unable to manage their care will make things easier when the time comes.