If there is one thing in life you can be sure of it is that you don’t know what is going to happen. As a parent making sure you have taken precautions that will take care of your family if you are not able to do so is critical. An article from Savvy-Parents, “Who Is Authorized to Pick Up Your Child in an Emergency?”, discusses the importance of ensuring you have filled about proper documentation like a Standby Guardianship Designation so that your children will have a legal guardian in the event you are unavailable.
Have you thought about who is authorized to pick your child up from school aside from yourself? What about daycare or other extracurricular activities? Your spouse/partner should not be your only answer. Organizations are not legally allowed to release your child to anyone who does not have documented authorization to do so. If both you and your spouse/partner were in an accident, your child would not be allowed to be released to another adult even if it were their grandparent. The police or child protective services might be called, something you would not want your child to go through on top of their parents being injured.
How can you guard against your child being kept from those who they trust in the event of your incapacitation? First, begin with talking to the school, daycare, etc. about what their procedure is when there is an emergency and both parents are unavailable. As stated in the Savvy-Parents article, the organization will likely require written authorization for a friend or grandparent to pick your child up and potentially a photograph of the person as well. Properly documenting this authorization is an important piece of planning for life. Additionally, so are other legal documents that will protect your family in the event of your incapacitation or death.
As mentioned earlier, a Standby Guardianship Designation is an important document to have filed. This authorizes a trusted person to temporarily have legal custody of your child(ren). This document will ensure that there is always someone with the legal authority to tend to the duties of caring for your child, from permitting medical care to enrolling them in school. Without a Standby Guardianship Designation, a friend or relative would have to petition the court to gain guardianship during your incapacitation. This can take months.
Another documentation that is an important piece of planning for life is to have a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney permits a person to manage your finances if you are unable to do so. This person can make your monthly payments like your mortgage or childcare and they can ensure your health insurance continues. This person’s role is very important as it is essential in making sure family expense are being paid so that there is minimal disruption to your family.
Lastly, having a Healthcare Proxy is another vital piece of documentation, this designates a person to make medical decisions for you. If you are comatose, then you will be unable to make your own medical decisions, and if your spouse is in a similar condition, then having someone who you trust and who understands your wishes is the best way to be sure your wishes will actually be carried out.
While deciding who will pick up your child when you can’t may seem like a simple task, it actually has a lot more attached to it than you may have originally thought. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you have not only the above documentation filled out to protect your family but also an effective estate plan.
For more information on this and other estate planning topics, visit our website and schedule your consultation today!
Reference: Savvy-Parents “Who Is Authorized to Pick Up Your Child in an Emergency?”