By nominating a guardian, you can talk to them about the responsibility that would be involved in raising your children and your expectations of them… if they were to serve. You can write detailed instructions from what schools you want your children to attend— to what social activities you want your children to participate—to how much money to spend on your child’s first wedding, first house, or first car.
of them, if they were to serve. You can write detailed instructions from what schools you want your children to attend—to what social activities you want your children to participate—to how much money to spend on your child’s first wedding, first house, or first car. You determine when your children receive their inheritance, at what ages and in what manner. You get to provide instructions on what holidays and other important dates you like for your children to celebrate, how often should your children spend with their paternal and maternal relatives, and what type of extracurricular classes they should take to prepare them for adulthood. On the other hand, if you let the court decide via the Probate and Family Codes, then the court has to abide by the law. The Probate court will also use other evidence including testimony and information from anyone who desires to apply for the position of your children’s guardian. The law provides the following order of priority: Surviving spouse or domestic partner; children; grandchildren; parents; brothers and sisters; issue of brothers and sisters; grandparents; issues of grandparents; etc. including a public administrator or creditors. Anyone in these categories can petition the court to become legal guardians of your children. Preparing a legal document can avoid placing your children in a situation in which family members, who may have competing priorities to be guardians, vie against each other in court seeking the state’s ultimate decision on who will raise your children. Legal documentation is particularly important if you intend for a person who is low on the priority list to care for your children, like a friend or your cousin, as courts will almost always choose a family member, by priority, over a friend, or distant relative. Additionally, the Probate court process is expensive, time consuming, and public. Probate court costs between 6-8% of your gross assets and takes between nine months and two years to complete. Since Probate court is public, all the information concerning your estate is open to anyone who wants to review your file. By preparing an estate plan TODAY, which includes a written nomination of guardians, you protect your children’s future and you give your children the best opportunity to be raised the way you want them to be raised, if you cannot do so yourself. Theresa Carter Geoffroy www.geoffroylaw.com (916) 572-1998 9401 East Stockton Blvd., Suite 140, Elk Grove, CA.
Ardent business summer 2015