Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, wills & estate planning, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.
We are often asked questions about guardianship for minor children. I think it’s critical to understand how valuable a guardianship declaration is for parents’ peace of mind.
What is Guardianship?
In case of the unfortunate event that you and your partner become unable to raise your children, you should establish a guardianship for your minor children with someone you trust. The best way to do this is to spell it out in your Will. It is recommended that you choose someone you trust and add a clause to your Will that you want that person to raise your children if you ever become incapacitated.
In your Will, name one person as guardian and one person as an alternate (in case the first one can’t fulfill the position) for each of your children. It’s legal to choose a different guardian for each child. You can even create more than one guardian for one child, though this has the potential to create problems should the co-guardians ever disagree. Appointing a married couple often works well, but be sure to name both in your Will to ensure that they have legal custody/power to make decisions for your minor child.
When choosing a legal guardian, consider the following characteristics:
- Must be a legal adult;
- Must be physically able to fulfill the responsibilities;
- Must have ample time to care for your children; and
- Must be able to afford to raise your children, via their own income or via assets you leave for the children’s care.
What If Only One Parent Dies?
If only one parent passes away, the surviving parent will still have legal custody over the children to the extent they had legal custody prior to the death. So, if the surviving spouse is the other natural parent of the children, they already have legal guardianship and custody of the children with or without a Will. But, if the surviving spouse is a step-parent who has not yet adopted the children, the Guardianship appointment in your Will would be used to confirm legal custody of the children to the step-parent (assuming the other natural parent no longer has legal rights to the children).
What if Both Parents Die?
If your children are minors at the time of the deaths, and if you designated a Guardian for Minor Children in your Will, the Guardian will submit the Will to the Clerk of Court and Petition for Guardianship of the children. The Clerk is required to defer to the wishes of the parents unless the potential Guardian is deemed unfit.
Can I Support My Kids After Death?
You can provide for your kids in a variety of different ways after death. You can leave them assets in your Will or trust, to be held for their benefit until they reach a certain age (usually 21 or 25). More than likely the guardian or trustee will hold the assets during their minority. You can also purchase life insurance now so that there is money to support your kids after you have passed away. The company will pay out following your death.
Additionally, you can leave detailed instructions to the potential Guardian now, or have those instructions written down and kept with your estate plan in the event you pass before your kids turn 18. Make sure that whoever the Guardian will be, they agree with and respect your parenting method and the manner in which you wish for your children to be raised in your absence. Planning well in advance of any unexpected illness or accident is critical and will provide much-needed peace of mind.
What if my Partner & I Die Without a Will?
If you do not appoint a Guardian in a Will, or some other writing executed with the same formalities of a Will, then your family will be able to petition the Clerk for Guardianship. However, in that event, the Clerk will have no context or background for your kids or your family. They will not be privy to your way of life or your parenting methods, and may consequently appoint a person you would not have intended to be the Guardian of your minor children.
As you can see, choosing a suitable Guardian well in advance of an unexpected death is prudent and responsible parenting. No one knows what the future holds. However, don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to hand-pick a legal Guardian for your children to ensure their upbringing is as you would have wanted it to be. Don’t let a stranger choose your child’s future.
I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”
As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!
Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?