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Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Grave Issue of Parenting – Writing Wills and Choosing Guardians

The following article, which appeared in the Orange County Register, features an interview with fellow Personal Family Lawyer Darlynn Morgan of The Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach, California.

Tips for making sure your children are cared for in the event of your death.

"Mommy, what happens after you die?"

It's a question most kids ask at some point – and we may quickly paint a picture of fluffy clouds, golden roads, rainbows and go about our day.

It's a question parents rarely want to truly consider. But ask yourself – what would happen to your kids if you died? Who would take care of them?

"A will may not be enough," says attorney Darlynn Morgan of The Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach. Morgan, a personal family lawyer, offers estate planning tips and advice to parenting and moms' groups, with a particular focus on children.

Here are her tips for ensuring your children's future in the event of your death:

•If both parents can't agree on a suitable guardian for the children, don't give up. Find a mediator who can help you to come to a mutual agreement for the benefit of the kids.

•When you name a couple to act as guardians, be sure to indicate what should happen if the couple broke up or one of the partners in the couple died. You want to ensure your children don't end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.

Name several alternate guardians if your first choice can not serve.

•It isn't necessary to take into account the financial resources of potential guardians when deciding who should raise your children. Your guardians are the people who will be in charge of your kids' emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, not necessarily their money.

It's your responsibility to leave enough money behind to take care of your kids either through savings or life insurance, and someone to manage that money if the guardians are not good money managers.

It's also a good idea to provide someone to manage your children's money so a lump sum doesn't go to your children at age 18 – without adult supervision.

•Be sure to name short-term guardians as well as long-term guardians. Short-term guardians will offer immediate care of your kids if you were in an accident. Otherwise, your kids could be taken out of your home and into the arms of strangers (child protective services) until the authorities figure out what to do.

•Be sure to specially name anyone you want excluded as guardians – those who might challenge your decisions or who you would never want raising your kids. (A grandparent or aunt or uncle, for example, who may fight the guardians for custody).

For a list of Morgan's upcoming speaking events, visit Morgan Law Group.

SOURCE: Orange County Register in an article written by CYNTHIA RUPE

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