You need to name back up trusted helpers in your estate planning documents because as life rockets along, people and circumstances change. For example, the trusted helper you named to raise your minor children may not be able to serve when the time comes.
Jan was a single mom. She had a great relationship with her only sister, Becca. So, when Jan had her two children, Elle and Eric, she named Becca as their guardian in her will. Becca carefully considered the responsibilities and accepted.
Jan died of ovarian cancer about 7 years later. Becca had died of the same disease just 2 years before, but Jan never updated her will and there was no back up guardian appointed.
If no one stepped forward to take Elle and Eric, they would be placed into foster care. They would stay in foster care until they each aged out at 18.
If family members do step forward, there is likely to be a battle with life-long scars and anger. And, the court will decide who will raise the children, not Jan.
Surely, this is not what Jan would have wanted for Elle and Eric. It all could have been avoided if Jan would have named a back up guardian in her will. When you consider how this lack of back up guardian will affect Elle and Eric for their lifetimes, you can see the vital importance of estate planning. Estate planning is not just a pile of papers.
Be sure to name:
- Back up guardians in your will
- Back up executors in your will
- Back up trustees in your trust
- Back up agents under your health care power of attorney
- Back up agents under your financial power of attorney
If you have any questions about how to choose back up trusted helpers, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.