Creating a will is the only way to ensure that your final wishes are met and carried out. This legal document specifies who will inherit your real estate, jewerly, property and even bank accounts on the event of your death. If you have any minor children, you also need to include who you wish to name as their guardian so you decide who cares for them.
Designate a Guardian or Two
When you prepare your will, you are able to designate more than one guardian over your estate. If you like, you can pick one person (or a couple) to be named as custodial guardian for your children. You may also entrust your property and manage the money designated for your children to a different person to be held in trust.
The money within these accounts can only be used for the welfare of the children and is held in trust until those children reach adulthood. The accounts are then passed to their hands.
Who Gets the Children When There is no Will?
This question really depends on which state you live in but usually the still living parent will gain custody of any minor children. This means that if you have no will created, your child could end up with a parent who has had little to do with them growing up.
There are some states that will appoint an administrator to control your children's money until they turn 18. There is a charge for this service. It also means that your spouse would not have access to those funds to help raise your children without going through a complicated legal procedure. Your spouse would need to apply to the courts to gain control of this money and if they do, would have to provide the court with an account of how much money is used every year.
You need to take into consideration as well, that if you don't leave a will, the child's grandparents or even a close family member may not get the children either. The state will appoint who they believe is best to raise the children and that may or may not be who you want to have custody.
Choose a Primary and Secondary Guardian
One more thing to think about. It is actually a good idea to appointment a primary and a secondary guardian in your will. The secondary guardian is an alternate choice to take the children in the event that your first choice is unable to care for them. For more information, contact a family lawyer (like those at Hurth Sisk & Blakemore LLP).