If you have no estate plan: The court will appoint a guardian for your minor children. This guardian appointed by the court will also oversee the financial assets for the child. This process is all under strict court supervision. All guardianships determined by the court terminate when the minor child turns 18.
An actual Trust does not provide for setting-up guardianship for minor children. However, this is one of the reasons why we include a “Pour-Over” Will in our Trust Package.
If you have a Trust (including a “Pour-Over" Will), you can designate the Guardian (the person that will raise your child) and the Successor Trustee (the person that will manage your child's finances). You have the ability to appoint one or several individuals for each or both. Trusts also allow you to control the age(s) at which your children/beneficiaries will receive a distribution of assets. You can even distribute percentages of your estate at different ages. (Example: 1/3 distribution at age 21, 1/3 distribution at age 25, the remaining balance at age 30). During this process, the Trustee always has the ability to use the finances for the beneficiary's health, education, maintenance, support, etc.
Providing care and support for children with a disability is also very important. Parents must choose a personal guardian to be responsible for the disabled child. Additionally, the parents must choose a financial manager to supervise any money or property they leave for the care of the disabled child for as long as the child lives.
If you have children under the age of eighteen (18), you need to decide who will get custody of your minor children if something happened to you (and your spouse if applicable).
You can choose an individual or a couple. If you choose a couple (e.g. a brother and a sister-in-law), and one of them dies (e.g. brother), the remaining spouse (e.g. sister-in-law) will act alone. If that is not what you want, consider choosing just the brother.
It is always a good idea to name an alternate guardian(s) for minor children in case the first choice is unable to.
If you are divorced and share custody with your child's biological parent, the biological parent will generally get full custody (even if your documents state otherwise).
PLEASE NOTE: Any guardian that you select cannot serve until appointed by the court.
PLEASE NOTE: the successor trustee that you choose will be in charge of the finances for your minor children.