Unless you have a complete, valid and executed “Guardianship Appointment” then a court will decide who will raise and care for your children. All of the below is eliminated and unless the appointed guardians are incapacitated, your wishes will be followed.
A minor is a person under the age of eighteen years. A guardian of a minor is an individual appointed by the court who has legal custody of the person or property or both of an individual under the age of eighteen.
The Probate and Family Court, the Juvenile Court, and the District Court have the power to appoint guardians for minors.
The Court may nominate the guardian if a minor is under the age of fourteen. A minor aged fourteen or older may, before a justice of the peace, notary public, or municipal clerk, nominate the guardian on the petition. The Court, after notice to or assent of the parents, will conduct a hearing and appoint a guardian.
The guardian must prepare and submit to the Court an annual inventory and accounting of the minor’s assets.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends can file for guardianship of a minor. The Petition must be filed in the County where the child is living.
Sometimes it is necessary to file for Emergency Temporary Guardianship when there is an emergency (the parents are incapacitated). Once documents are filed with the Court, a hearing is held. The Court may provide a Temporary Order for Guardianship. This Temporary Order is only good for 30, 60 or 90 days. With a Temporary Order of Guardianship, the Court will provide instructions on what the guardian MUST do before getting Permanent Guardianship. All parties need to be notified that a Temporary Guardianship has been named.
If there is not an emergency (death of the parents), after all required Court documents are filed, a notice needs to be given to other parties. The other parties are generally the biological relatives of the child (ren), or any other party that has an interest in the child (ren). What is the problem with this? Anyone connected to the child(ren) can contest and seek custody of the child(ren).
Remember, all of this is a cost that your estate will pay.
IN ORDER TO AVOID THESE ISSUES AND MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CHILD(REN) ARE CARED FOR BY THE PERSON(S) THAT YOU WANT, CONTACT ME TO DISCUSS YOUR ESTATE PLANNING.