Deciding who should take care of your children when you die can be difficult. There are so many factors to consider, and then the people you choose have to agree. But once the decision is made, immortalizing those wishes in a will as part of your estate planning is paramount, especially if you are a single parent. Otherwise, a New Jersey court may decide who gets to take care of your children.
Adam Yauch's will illustrates the specificity that can be given with regard to guardianship of children. The co-founder of the Beastie Boys died of cancer back in May, and his will was filed with the New York Surrogate's Court. In it, he describes how the guardians of his children should be chosen. There is a different scenario, depending on whether he dies in an odd year or an even year. The unusual arrangement was apparently born out of a disagreement with his wife and appears to have been a compromise.
New Jersey couples, or single parents, can also be as specific in their wills as Yauch was in his. When it comes to safeguarding the future of your children, you can never be too careful. Approaching the issue with the mindset that the people you choose will really be raising your children may help in the decision making process. All of the things you want for your children, whether it be religiously, academically, economically, or anything else should be considered in your decision and discussed with the prospective guardian or guardians.
Putting your wishes in writing through estate planning may achieve that peace of mind. If you have specific requests, they may be better served in a trust or side agreement. Consulting a professional on how best to document your wishes with regard to your children after your death may help ensure that all of the parties involved have the best chance of fulfilling your wishes.
Source: Forbes.com, "Adam Yauch's Will Reveals His Private Dilemma," Deborah L. Jacobs, Aug. 10, 2012