From the desk of Darlynn Morgan, Wills Lawyer Orange County

One of my greatest passions in life is educating parents on the importance of naming guardians for their children and preparing in advance should death or incapacity occur.

Of course the possibility of leaving this world can be difficult to accept and for that reason, many parents struggle with this issue.  Yet on the flip side, those feelings can easily lull parents into paralysis and prevent them from taking the proper steps necessary to protect their loved ones should something tragic occur.

Usually when I speak to various groups around Orange County, I try to deliver this message in a more upbeat and cheerful way so the public can see that estate planning can be a positive, interactive and joyful experience.

But for today’s post I am going to be blunt and to the point.

Simply put, it is critical for EVERY PARENT to get their legal and financial house in order to ensure their children stay protected should the unthinkable happen. As you can imagine, children are extremely helpless and vulnerable in emergency situations, so it’s up to YOU to put safeguards in place so your kids are never left at the mercy of a judge or in the arms of someone you would never want to raise them in your absence.

But again, in case I didn’t already make my point, here are a few hard-cold facts about what would happen to your kids if you died tomorrow without a will or trust in place:

1. A judge who doesn’t know you or your children will decide who raises them.

If something happens to you, who is going to step up?  Is it the person that you want to raise them?  If you don’t have an estate plan in place, will your relatives squabble over who is or isn’t responsible for raising them? Do you really want to put your children through that?

2. The person who the judge picks to raise your kids will also be responsible for their financial well-being.

If something happens to you, all of your assets will be handed to the guardian (that you didn’t select) to be managed for the kids. The obvious fear is that this person could possibly use the funds for something other than the care of your children.  However, there are many other things to consider.  Does the person that the judge picked have the same financial values that you do?  For example, you may feel strongly that you would like your children to attend high-end sports clinics to help develop their athletic skills.  But, will the guardian see the value in this?  Maybe they think spending that much money is a waste.

3. All of the money left from your estate (assuming there IS any) may go to your child in a lump sum when she is 18 years old.

Think about this one.  What would you have done if someone handed you a bunch of money at 18 years old?  Scary thought, huh?  The hard truth is that most 18 year olds are simply not mature enough to handle finances at that age.  I’ve witnessed case after case of kids who should have been well-off financially, but weren’t because they decided to buy cars and clothes instead of investing in their future by going to college.

So, there you have it.  Consider this a virtual smack in the head for those that need it.  My hope is that you’ll see this article as an urgent wake-up call and do what it takes to make sure your family is protected, no matter what.  To help you do just that, I’ll give you a FREE Family Wealth Planning Session (normally $750) as a reward for stepping up and doing what’s right by your family.

Simply call me, your neighborhood Orange County wills lawyer at 949-260-1400 to reserve your spot. However, this offer is limited to the first 10 appointments so don’t wait….protect your family today!