The pandemic is causing us to consider things that we may not have considered before. While COVID-19 has been devastating to many people, it has also reminded us to not turn our backs on things that are important to us.
It brings to mind something a friend of mine shared recently. My friend told me that recently after her husband and she were at dinner, she had left her small children with a babysitter. As she sat there at dinner, a thought crept into her head that she couldn’t let go of.
“What would happen to her kids, she thought, if she and her husband got into a car accident on the way home?”
Even though my client had a will naming guardians for her kids if she died, she didn’t know what would happen if she only became ill and didn’t die. She was right to be concerned because in order for the guardian provision in a will to be effective, you have to be dead. You see, a will only has effect after you die. It does not have any validity to effect things during your lifetime. That is a significant gap I see in estate plans all the time because people don’t realize that a will only takes effect after they die. Luckily for my friend, it was that thought at dinner that spurred her to take action; it was that thought that caused her to contact me and ask what would happen to her children if she and her husband only had a will naming a guardian for her children.
If you’d like to read the book she wrote as a result of her own discoveries, it’s called “Wear Clean Underwear: A Fast, Fun, Friendly—and Essential—Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents. ” It’s a book on legal planning for families. We’d love to send it to you as our gift. Simply email us at ClientServices@CrisCarterLaw.com or call us at (719) 434-0000 and ask for your free copy, and we’ll send it your way.
One thing you’ll discover in the book is that even naming a legal guardian in your will is often not enough to keep your kids out of the care of strangers, or someone you wouldn’t want to care for your children, if something happens to you.
Chances of COVID-19 Infection in the Family
If you are young and healthy, it might be hard to imagine that you won’t be there to care for your kids. But if the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us anything, it’s that even a healthy person can contract a serious illness that leaves them incapacitated and unable to care for their children.
If there is more than one adult in the house, that may alleviate some of your worries. While naming legal guardians for your kids may feel especially urgent for a single parent, parents with partners aren’t off the hook. You should take precautions though, especially since there are high infection rates among people who live in the same household.
A professor at the University of Florida has found a more than 19% chance that someone else in the household of a person infected with COVID-19 will also contract the disease. Researchers estimate the average incubation time is about four days and a person could be infectious for up to two weeks before they know they have the virus. That means that you and your partner could both contract the illness at the same time.
An Easy Way to Find Guardians for Your Children
Even if you never contract COVID-19, you are, of course, still human and vulnerable to accidents and other dangers that could separate you from your kids—either temporarily or permanently.
Weeks prior, we referred to one way to handle parental guilt: naming temporary and permanent legal guardians for your children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to give you a guilt trip right now! But I am encouraging you to take action if you haven’t already. And, if you are having a difficult time deciding who to name as legal guardians for your children, we can even help you make the right decisions.
Officially answering the question of who will care for your kids if you can’t—even for a short time—is one of the best things you can do right now. It is a real, concrete way you can protect your kids during this scary season of our lives. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to get it done quickly, so you can have peace of mind that your kids’ future is secure no matter what happens.
If you need help with the process, please do give us a call and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.
This article is a service of Cris Carter Law. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.