Becky Cholewka: One of the most difficult choices for folks when they are dealing with the estate planning documents if they have minor kids is who’s going to raise those minor kids if something should happen to both parents.
That actually gets even more complicated if a couple divorces because now sometimes through that divorce, we may not have very good communication skills amongst those parents anymore.
One of the things we do still encourage folks to do is have these really tough conversations about what happens should both parents die, because what a court will do is they will look to the last surviving parents’ will.
If, for example, both parents are killed at or near the same time and there are two wills in place that name two different people that will raise those children, now we’re actually going to have a court case. We’re going to have a trial for the judge to determine who he wants or she wants the kids to be raised with.
I would much prefer those decisions to remain with the parents. I would much rather have those decisions be shared with both sides of the family so that extended family members don’t try to litigate that matter as well.
Remember, if this scenario happens, it means that mom and dad died and there are minor children that are having a very difficult time with life and a very difficult transition. The last thing that we want to do for them is to throw them into a court situation not knowing who they’re going to live with until the judge decides.
It’s a great idea, even if you’re divorced, to still work with that other parent. Figure out who you would like to raise the children if something should happen to both of you. Make sure that you both execute wills stating those exact same preferences.