How to answer the number 1 question for parents:  Who should I choose to be the guardian of my child?

How to answer the number 1 question for parents: Who should I choose to be the guardian of my child?

A guardian is a person who looks after and is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. There are three main situations when a guardian may be needed: for a disabled person, an elderly person who is no longer able to care for themselves, or a child under 18 whose both parents become incapacitated or are deceased. When I draft estate plans for my clients and they have children younger than 18 years old, I always recommend a provision be added to the wills that if something should happen to both parents, a guardian is named to care for the children. In the state of Illinois, if one parent becomes incapacitated or dies, the other parent typically becomes the sole custodian of the children. When having your wills drafted you must consider who would take guardianship of the children in the event both parents die at the same time. This person will make all future decisions for the children. This can be a very difficult question to answer. When I am counseling people to help them decide, there are a few points that I present for consideration. First, I recommend choosing potential guardians who are not substantially older than the parents. Young clients commonly want to choose the child’s grandparents, however, historically speaking, the grandparents will become incapacitated or die before the parents, or before the grandchildren would attain the age 18. Second, I recommend choosing someone who lives a similar lifestyle. Having your parents disappear is hard enough on the children. You want this difficult transition to be as easy as...

What is a living will?

A living will is a document that outlines your wishes for your medical treatment should you become unable to express decisions for your medical care. In Illinois, we use a document called Power of Attorney for Healthcare for you to indicate your intensions regarding your healthcare decisions should you be unable to communicate them. In the document you have the ability to name one or multiple “health care agents” who will have the power to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to or do not want an make them yourself. Not only is it important for you to have a living will, but the document must also be signed properly based on current Illinois legal requirements. It is also imperative that your healthcare agent knows where the document is in the event he or she needs to produce it. It can only benefit you and your family.   Some questions that need to be answered when filling out a living will: What is most important to you in your life? How important it is to you to avoid pain and suffering? Would you rather be home or in a hospital for the last days of your life?   If you have any questions regarding a living will please contact...