Guardians for Children - A Good Result from the Michael Jackson Circus

Over the past several weeks I have gotten a number of calls that started this way "I don't need an estate plan, but I need to name Guardians for my kids - the Michael Jackson situation got me thinking."

Unfortunately, the term "estate planning" is off-putting; many people think they need to have loads of money to have an "estate plan". All that you need to benefit from an estate plan is something that you want to protect - that could be your business, your money from taxes, your charitable goals, or your children.

A basic estate plan consists of a Will (who gets my stuff when I die and how do they get it), a Financial Power of Attorney (who can make financial decisions for me if I can't), and a Health Care Power of Attorney (who can make medical decisions for me if I can't). 

A Will is the only place you can name Guardians for your minor children.  The ONLY place.  So, everyone with kids needs an "estate plan" because they need a Will.  

Think about all the decisions you make for your children every day.  Shouldn't you take action to determine who would make those decisions if you can't? Who would communicate your values to your children?  Who would make sure they have the life experiences when they are young that are important to you?

I'm not saying its an easy decision in all instances - family situations are difficult.  I am saying you should never leave it up to a judge you never met and who doesn't know you or children to figure our who the person who raises them should be.