Kids Protection Workshop - Orange County - May 12

When Tragedy Strikes, Will Your Family Be Prepared?

As parents, we know that bad things can happen to our family and that’s why we take steps to minimize our child’s risk or exposure. We invest in the very best car seats, baby-proof gear, cabinet locks, helmets and other equipment—all in the name of keeping our children protected.   It feels like that’s all I ever think about, keeping my two young children safe!

Yet when it comes to making sure our kids are protected in the event of mom or dad’s sudden death or incapacity, most parents find security by sticking their heads in the sand, doing nothing and thinking positive thoughts.  


I’m a mom and an estate planning lawyer, so I talk with a lot of parents each week. Whether I’m giving a Kids Protection Workshop or just hanging at the park or with my moms club, I hear a ton of “reasons” (excuses?) as to why parents have not legally documented guardians for their kids and why there’s no plan for their money if the unthinkable happens. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The chances of my spouse and I dying together are slim
    • I’ve told my family my wishes, I know they’ll honor them if I’m not around
    • I don’t have a ton of assets to leave to my kids, everything is pretty straightforward
    • My child is still a baby/toddler… I have plenty of time to take care of this
    • I thought about naming guardians, but I just couldn’t decide on the best person (or hubby and I don’t agree on who to choose)

Thanks to these reasons above, over 69% of parents in our area have not created a will or trust to protect their children if tragedy strikes! They are gambling on odds, hoping they won’t die at the same time as their spouse or that a judge will just go along with a family member who says they know your wishes, but they have nothing legally documented to back it up. (And that also assumes there’s no fighting relatives, or multiple family members who come forward).

Real Families Who Were Unprepared for Tragedy

In the past few years, there were three real life stories that captured national attention and reminded parents just how vulnerable their kids are if an unexpected tragedy strikes. I wanted to share them because they are vivid reminders of why getting your legal affairs in order is so critically important.

Parents Josh and Robin Berry were instantly killed when a vehicle entered their lane and totaled the family car. Their 3 small children survived, with two suffering serious spinal cord injuries that left them paralyzed from the waist down and needing millions of dollars of treatment. Josh’s brother and wife were appointed guardians of the children by a court and are now relying on public donations to help provide the children with a lifetime of medical and financial care.

Young mother Victoria Valdez was a passenger in a car driven by the father of her child. He had been drinking earlier that night and lost control of their car, which killed Victoria after rolling several times down the road. Despite surviving the crash, the father was arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter. With both parents now gone, a bitter and expensive court battle raged between the grandparents for custody of the couple’s 14-month-old baby. This is a prime example of why guardians are still necessary—even if both parents are not killed at once.

Marty and Elisa Wilcox were beaming as they drove home from the hospital with their 3-year-old and newborn son. The joyful moment quickly turned tragic when a car entered their lane and killed everyone except for the newborn boy, who was found unharmed in the bushes nearby. The child’s grandmother was appointed to raise the child, but considering her age, who will look out for him when she’s gone?

Will YOUR Kids Be Protected If Tragedy Strikes?

These stories are sobering reminders that none of us have a crystal ball and we can’t accurately predict when serious illness, disability, death or other tragedies of life will strike.

What we can do as parents, however, is legally document the people we trust to raise our kids if the unthinkable happens. These are the people who would raise our kids as closely to the way we would and provide them with the love, guidance and support they deserve. We can also put a solid financial plan in place to ensure our children’s inheritance is never squandered or mismanage, and that there are plenty of resources available to support them in our absence.

It’s an investment that is just as critical as a car seat, baby-proofing or any other measure designed to protect our kids. It’s bad enough for a child to face the pain and grief of losing a parent—let alone being forced to live with relatives they don’t like or have the wrong people controlling the money you’ve worked so hard to leave them behind.

 

It’s Time to Get Your Affairs in Order

 

Fortunately, getting your legal house in order is EASY and it starts by being informed!  I understand how confusing it can be to plan for your family’s future when you don’t know where to start, what questions to ask or who to turn to for help.  But it’s time to get proactive and learn how to protect your children if the unthinkable happens.  A great first step is attending an informational workshop that is geared toward parents. It’s the best hour you’ll ever spend when it comes to the future security and protection of your minor kids. If you’d like to join me for this event where I’ll teach you everything you need to know about protecting your family, reserve a space by clicking the link below!

 

FREE KIDS PROTECTION WORKSHOP

Granola Babies
May 12 at 10:00 am

Register at www.KidsProtectionWorkshop.com or call (949) 260-140

 

 

4 Easy Steps to Name Guardians for Your Kids If Something Happens To You

By Darlynn Morgan

As an estate planning lawyer, I know one of the most important decisions a parent can make is determining who will care for their baby or minor children if something tragic happened to them. I also know it’s very easy for parents to get stuck during this critical decision making process.  Do you choose this person for financial reasons? Religion? A certain parenting philosophy? Do you care if the couple you chose stays married or eventually gets a divorce? Then what?

While it’s great to put a lot of thought into who you would want to raise your kids, indecision and ultimately inaction is a very dangerous place to be, especially with a new baby or young children at home. It’s important to remember that SOMEONE will determine what happens to your kids….so it might as well be you!  The alternative is a judge who knows nothing about you, your family or what truly is in the best interest of your children.

So to avoid having a judge make life-changing decisions on your child’s behalf if something unexpectedly happens to you, I would like to share four easy steps that will help you finally take action and choose the right guardians for your kids:

  1. Sit down and brainstorm all the people who could possibly raise your kids if you were killed or incapacitated in an accident. Don’t limit your choices to family either. Think outside the box and write down everyone who even remotely fits the bill.
  2. Determine who you would NEVER want to raise your kids in your absence.  You’ll need to tell the court who you DON’T want raising your kids so they can protect your family should that named individual (s) contest your wishes and seek custody of your kids following your death or incapacity. (This can be kept private and only revealed if the need arises).
  3. Weigh your values.  Make another column and write down what is important to you and/or your spouse.  Do you value education?  Religious or spiritual training? The ability to live in a certain community?  Being raised in a two-parent family?  Whatever your values may be, be honest about them, write them down, prioritize them and eventually rank the top three.
  4. Match your top choices to your top values.  This will give you a clear picture of who you can trust to raise your children with the values you hold near and dear to your heart.

And of course, the last (and arguably the most important step) is to legally document your choice of guardians so there’s no question as to who you want to raise your kids if something happens to you!

This part can be tricky, but you can do it with a bit of education and know-how on the subject.  To help make this step easier for you, I’d like to invite you to a FREE workshop I’m hosting at Granola Babies on May 12th at 10:00 am where I will personally hold your hand and teach you how to name guardians for your minor children.  During the workshop you will also discover:

  • The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your children are cared for by the people you want, in a way you want, should something happen to you or your spouse.
  • Common mistakes parents make that may allow the police to take their minor children out of the house and into the hands of foster care …even with family members ready and willing to help…if you were temporarily or permanently injured in an accident.
  • How to keep your children from the expenses and delays of the court system….and out of the hands of a judge assigned to make painful custody or financial decisions on your family’s behalf.
  • The six common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their minor children…and how to correct those mistakes if you have made one.
  • How to ensure your money is immediately available to your chosen guardians so your children will not require hand-outs should something happen to you…and why this must be PRIVATE to keep every con-artist in town away from your family’s inheritance.
  • How to ensure your current will, trust or other estate planning documents won’t FAIL (which they often do, even when drafted by lawyers) when your family needs them the most.

The information you learn can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees (not to mention years of headaches if something happens), so get the details and register at www.KidsProtectionWorkshop.com.  

Remember, an hour invested in learning how to protect your kids could result in a lifetime of security for them if the unthinkable happens.  So I encourage you to join me at Granola Babies on May 12 at 10:00 a.m. to ensure your kids are protected and cared for by the people you want, in a way you want…no matter what!

 





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