5 Things to Think About: Choosing the Right Guardian for Your Child

Having children adds a new and extremely important dimension to your estate planning. You must designate a responsible guardian for your children while they are minors, in case you or your partner are no longer able to care for them. Choosing the right guardian for your child is one of the hardest and most important decisions you’ll ever make. Weighing the pros and cons of each family member and friend can be overwhelming. It is best to take a step back and thoroughly consider what matters the most in a guardian.

Here are 5 things that you should consider when deciding who to name as the guardian of your young children:

  1. Where does the potential guardian live?

You may assume that if you were to die, the guardian you have chosen will pack up their bags and move into the children’s home. That assumption is asking a lot from that individual. More likely, your children will move in with them.

Keeping this in mind, if your children will need to move somewhere far after losing you, they might have a m ore difficult transition. Not only will they have to adjust to a new place and a new home, but they will also have to adjust to a new school, making friends, and losing nearby relatives, favorite places, and familiar neighborhoods.

Make sure that the individual of choice lives in a city you feel would be a good fit for your children to grow up in and ideally is close to where your children are growing up now.

What do you know about the potential guardian’s parenting skills?

If the potential choice is already a parent, consider their parenting skills. Are they hands on with raising their children or do they rely on outside help? Find out how they discipline, educate, and support their own family.

If the individual is not yet a parent, then consider what you know about them and how they were raised. How a person grew up tends to greatly impact the parent they will become.

Your children may have trouble adjusting if the guardian you appoint for them has drastically different rules and expectations for their children than you have for yours.

  1. How old and healthy is the potential guardian?

 A younger guardian may be too involved in developing their own life and will not have the sufficient time to raise a family. On the other hand, a younger choice may have more energy and be more in touch with the latest parenting and education trends.

An older guardian will probably be more financially stable and have more time to be hands on with the children. However, it is possible that the children will still be minors while their new guardian starts to face aging health.

Regardless of age, ensure that they are physically and mentally able to accept the responsibility. They may be great as weekend babysitters, but having your kids permanently is a very different notion. Are they up to it?

  1. What’s the potential guardian’s financial situation?

Make sure you know how the potential guardian handles money, if they have a stable income, and if they have enough time to offer to your children.

It is important to know that the chosen individual can afford to raise your children the way that you would want and that they would not be overburdened with the extra time and financial expense needed.

  1. What’s the potential guardian’s views on education and religion?

Whether you insist on your kids being home schooled, privately educated, or publicly educated, it is important to find a guardian that is on the same page.

Consider their religious views and their values in life. It may be impossible to find a guardian that follows your exact political, religious, and overall views, but someone who has a higher amount of similarity is better than none.

If you have questions about appointing a proper guardian for your children, reach out to us today.

Our California estate planning attorneys help clients in Oxnard and the surrounding areas of Ventura County with a complete range of trust and estate services. We can help you figure out the best course of action for your estate and create a legally valid plan under California law. Call Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today at (805) 981-8555 or contact us online for more information.

5 Things to Do When You Get an Inheritance

Receiving an inheritance from a family member may seem like a blessing, but sometimes it can feel like a curse. In the next three to four decades, $30 trillion will transfer from baby boomers to their heirs. A lump sum of money may seem like it will last you a lifetime, but most people go through it in just a couple of years. Continue reading

To Catch a Thief- How to Prevent Inheritance Theft

When you create a will or estate plan you may assume that your money will go to the intended heirs. But inheritance theft can happen right in front of your heirs, and the thieves will probably get away with it if the proper measures aren’t put into place to stop them. Since the thieves are usually family members, the fallout is not only about money, but also previous family tensions.

Here is what you need to know about the problem of inheritance theft, and how you can protect yourself and your heirs from inheritance thieves:

Forms of Inheritance Hijacking

Inheritance hijacking takes many forms, including outright theft. It is not unusual for valuables such as antiques or jewelry, to disappear from your home after you die. Missing items could have been taken by a stranger breaking into your home, or even someone close to you. A family member may want to grab a treasured item before someone else gets the chance. Even an in-home caregiver could take valuable items as a sort of do-it-yourself severance payment.

Denigration of fellow heirs is a frequent tactic used to increase an inheritance. Sometimes heirs are so focused on what they can do to increase their chunk of estate that they forget about the bond they have with their fellow heirs. One may lie about the other heirs, claiming that one sibling cannot be trusted with money, and make false promises. This kind of talk can persuade you to change your will in favor of the lying heir.

Undocumented loans are another type of inheritance hijacking. Family and friends who borrow money from you may say that the money was a gift. If there is no loan document in place, the heirs have no recourse to get the money back from the borrower on your behalf. The only way to protect your heirs from this tactic is to insist on loan documents whenever you loan out a large chunk of change.

Heirs or advisors might also prepare a fake will or amendment to a real will, giving the forger a larger piece of estate. For example, if you leave a larger piece of your estate to one heir, and another sibling destroys the will, then you would be considered to have died “intestate”. If this happens, your money would be distributed equally between your children.

Protecting Your Estate

If you take certain steps while preparing your will, you can greatly increase the odds that your assets will reach the intended heirs. A will or estate-plan document you prepare yourself is more likely to be successfully contested than those created by an experienced estate-planning attorney.

Discussing your estate plan with your entire family present will ensure everyone is on the same page. If the whole family knows about your assets and how you intend to divide them, it is much more difficult for any lying, arguing, or confusion to happen.

Appointing two executors to your estate will minimize the chance of your executor taking advantage of their position. Make one of the two executors a non-family professional, such as a trust company, a financial planner, or an attorney.

Another way to ensure that there is no inheritance theft involved is to give assets to your heirs before your will goes into effect. Another benefit of this tactic is that you will be able to see your heirs enjoy the gifts you have given them.

Insist that your executors share details with all of your beneficiaries about the estate’s expenses, assets, and financial transfers. Your estate-planning attorney can write this requirement into your will. This requirement makes it harder for an executor to hide theft.

It’s important to also reconsider your estate plan before you get remarried. You may assume that your spouse will treat the children from your first marriage fairly during the estate-distribution process. In reality, your intended heirs may receive a much smaller share of the estate than you intended, or even nothing at all. The new spouse or the new spouses’ heirs may put their own financial interests first.

Our California estate planning attorneys help clients in Oxnard and the surrounding areas of Ventura County with a complete range of trust and estate services. We can help you figure out the best course of action for your estate and create a legally valid plan under California law. Call Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today at (805) 981-8555 or contact us online for more information.

Water Company Ordered to Pay Ojai Playhouse Damages

In 2014, the historic Ojai Playhouse movie theater suffered damage after a water main break caused a flood. Now, a judge has ordered the former water purveyor of the town to pay the establishment $2.7 million worth of damages.

Golden State Water Co. once managed the water system for Ojai. The company was ordered to pay brothers Khaled Al-Awar and Walid Al-Awar, the owners of the playhouse, almost $2 million for repairs made after the theater was severely damaged, which was ordered by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neill on July 19, 2017.
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