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  • Writer's pictureMaria Worthington McKenna

Who Will Care for Your Child When You Cannot?

As a parent, one of your daily responsibilities in life is to care of your minor child. In most circumstances, this means getting them up for school, making sure they are fed, to practices and games and providing for other basic needs. However, what would happen if you and your child’s other parent were unable to care for them?

It is important to note that if something were to happen to you, your child’s other parent is most likely going to have full authority and custody of your child, unless there is some other reason why the parent should not have this authority. So in most cases, estate planning is going to help develop a plan for protecting your child in the event that neither parent is able to care for a minor child.

What If You Die?

When it comes to planning for the unexpected, many parents are familiar with the concept of naming a guardian to take care of their minor children in the event both parents die. While hard to think about, this is an important step toward ensuring that your child’s future is secure.

Without an Estate Plan

If you and your child’s other parent die without officially nominating a guardian to care for your child, a judge will have to make a guardianship decision. The judge will refer to state law, which will provide a list of people in order of priority who can be named as the child’s guardian—usually family members. The judge will then have a short period of time to gather information and determine who will be entrusted to raise your child. Due to the time constraints and limited information, it is impossible for the judge to understand all of the nuances of your family circumstances. However, the judge will have to choose someone based on their best judgment. In the end, the judge may end up choosing someone you would never have wanted to raise your child to act as your child’s guardian until they are 18 years old.

With an Estate Plan

By proactively planning, you maintain control and can nominate the person you want to raise your child in the event you and the child’s other parent are unable to care for them. Maryland law dictates that a Last Will and Testament is the document to be utilized to set forth your wishes regarding the guardian of your minor child or children. Depending on your state law, there may be another way to nominate a guardian. Some states recognize a separate document in which you can nominate a guardian, and that document is then referenced in your Will. Some people prefer this approach because it is easier to change the separate document as opposed to changing your Will if you want to choose a different guardian or backup guardians.  Parents should know and understand relevant state laws on this topic to ensure that all appropriate measures have been taken to protection their minor child or children.

We Are Here to Protect You and Your Children

We want to make sure that regardless of what life throws at you, you and your child are cared for. Give us a call to learn more about how we can ensure that the right people are making decisions for your child when you cannot.


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