One of the main reasons parents reach out to our team of lawyers is to gain insight and professional advice for their their estate planning. Every parent has a strong desire to ensure that their children are cared for in the event of an untimely passing.
The birth of a new baby or an adoption raises the difficult question, “what happens to my child if I die?”
Uncomfortable Conversations Can’t Always be Avoided
No one likes to think about passing away while they still have young children. While this is not a common occurrence, it does unfortunately happen once in a while. There are steps that every parent should take to prepare if they were to pass away before their children passed the age of 19. Once you have children over 19 you will still want to provide for them should you pass away, but they will no longer require a legal guardian at this point.
Most of us feel strongly that there isn’t anyone else in this world that can possibly do the same job raising our children as we can. However, we have to ask ourselves the question, “who is the next best option?”
As a parent, you are in the greatest position to determine who is best suited to care for your children. A legal Will offers parents the opportunity to select who will be the guardian to their children if they were unable to do so, which ensures that their children end up in the best care possible should the unthinkable happen. A legal guardian is a person who is responsible for the care and upbringing of a child. For example, if you and your partner have a child together, then you and your partner typically share guardianship of that child. If you pass away and your partner survives, your partner would then become the sole guardian, but if you were to both pass away, then the guardian will be the person or people you appointed in your Will.
Appointing a Legal Guardian
By appointing a guardian through a Will, you control who will be responsible for your children. This person will provide the day-to-day love, care, and support that your children need. Your children will also need to be supported financially (university, sports fees, clothing, etc). The person responsible for administering the financial care for your children can be the same person who you’ve chosen to provide their day-to-day care, or a different person. Whatever route you choose, you need to select your guardian options carefully.
If you pass away, leaving no surviving guardian for your children, without an appointed guardian in your Will, then the Ministry of Children and Family Development will assume the guardian role for your children’s “person” (meaning their physical wellbeing), and the Public Guardian and Trustee will assume the guardian role for your children’s “estate” (meaning their finances and property). A family member or close friend will have to bring forth an application in court to have consideration as the guardian of your children. Unfortunately the person who applies, or the person who is ultimately appointed guardian, may not be the person you would have chosen. This process also compounds an already very difficult time for your children, as they have to wait in ‘limbo’ for months until someone is appointed by the court to care for them. Children that have to endure these periods of limbo go through unnecessary emotional and mental strain.
Many of the Team Members at Doak Shirreff have children, and we know how difficult it is to think about another person raising your children. It isn’t something anyone wants to contemplate, but it is important to protect our children, even if we can’t be around to do it ourselves.
Do you have questions pertaining to your Will or how to ensure you children are provided in the event of your passing? You may contact Kate Snowsell at your convenience, gaining the insight you and your children deserve. Contact Kate Snowsell at Doak Shirreff at [email protected] OR call (250)-763-4323
This content has been prepared to provide general information and is not to be relied on as legal advice or a legal opinion.