The pandemic is causing us to consider a lot of things that we may not have before, even if maybe we should have.
It brings to mind something a colleague of mine shared recently. One unremarkable weekend, she left her small children with a babysitter and headed out to enjoy dinner at a restaurant with her husband. But as she sat there, a thought crept into her head that she couldn’t let go.
What would happen to her kids, she thought, if she and her husband got into a car accident on the way home?
And even though my colleague is an estate planning lawyer herself, and she had a will at home naming guardians for her kids, she didn’t have a definite and clear answer that provided the comfort she wanted. Her will was in a vault, and her named legal guardians lived thousands of miles away. It was that thought that spurred her to take action, not only for her own family but to create tools and resources for others as well.
If you’d like to read the book she wrote as a result of her own discoveries, it’s called “Wear Clean Underwear: A Fast, Fun, Friendly—and Essential—Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents” and it’s the best-selling book on legal planning for families. We’d love to send it to you as our gift. Simply email us at [email protected] and we’ll send it your way, free.
One thing you’ll discover in the book is that even naming a legal guardian in your will is often not enough to keep your kids out of the care of strangers, or someone you wouldn’t want if something happens to you.
If you are young and healthy, it might be hard to imagine that you won’t be there to care for your kids. But if the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us anything, it’s that even a healthy person can contract a serious illness that leaves them incapacitated and unable to care for their children.
If there is more than one adult in the house, that may alleviate some of your worries. While naming legal guardians for your kids may feel especially urgent for a single parent, parents with partners aren’t off the hook. You should take precautions though, especially since there are high infection rates among people who live in the same household.
A professor at the University of Florida has found a more than 19% chance that someone else in the household of a person infected with COVID-19 will also contract the disease. Researchers estimate the average incubation time is about four days and could be infectious for up to two weeks. That means it’s not outside the realm of possibility that you and your partner could both contract the illness, possibly at the same time.
Even if you never contract COVID-19, you are of course still human and vulnerable to accidents and other dangers that could separate you from your kids—either temporarily or permanently.
Last week, we referred to one way to handle parental guilt: naming temporary and permanent legal guardians for your children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to give you a guilt trip right now! But I am encouraging you to take action if you haven’t already, and I’m going to show you a very easy (and free!) tool to use to get you started.
Go to this website right now and name guardians for your children in a legal document, and then have it reviewed by us. When we review your legal document (or, your will if you already have one), we can discuss who would care for your children in the immediate term if something happens to you, even on a short-term basis.
And, if you are having a difficult time deciding who to name as legal guardians for your children, we can even help you make the right decisions.
Officially answering the question of who will care for your kids if you can’t—even for a short time—is one of the best things you can do right now. It is a real, concrete way you can protect your kids during this scary period of time. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to get it done quickly, so you can have peace of mind that your kids’ future is secure no matter what happens.
If you need help with the process, please do give us a call and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.
This article is a service of Kristen Wong, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.