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August 26, 2020

If you have minor children, several concerns arise in addition to the usual Florida estate planning issues. In case of death before they reach 18 years of age, it’s important you make some critical decisions regarding guardianship and how your assets will be managed for them. Though it seems overwhelming to some people, the results of not taking these steps can prove disastrous or run contrary to what you would have wanted.

Naming a Guardian

If you have minor children, it’s important you name a “Guardian of the Person” as well as a “Guardian of the Property” for them no matter your financial standing. The Guardian of the Person receives the responsibility of caring for your child (this is the person who will raise them in their home), while the Guardian of the Property is charged with managing the financial affairs for your child. You can pick the same person for both guardianships or elect different people, but it is important to choose.  The probate court will appoint the child a guardian after their parents’ death – with advanced planning, your named guardians will be selected; otherwise, it’s up to the Court to choose the legal guardian.

Naming a guardian has many benefits for parents, including:

  • Provides you with true peace of mind
  • Protects your child
  • Allows for you to select the guardian of your child, rather than a Judge
  • Largely prevents family conflict over who becomes the child’s guardian or manages their assets

Deciding Who You Name as Guardian

Guardianship is a big responsibility, so it’s important you consider several factors that may shape who you ultimate designate as the guardian for your minor child.

  • Location Location Location! Is it important your child remain in their current community?
  • Age Matters.  How old is your prospective guardian? Though some family members such as grandparents may seem the best choice, you should factor in their age and health.
  • Values. Is the prospect of your religion or do they share your moral views?
  • Desire.  Are they willing to serve?
  • Ability.  Can they serve – they should have the time, financial ability, and parenting skills to adequately care for a minor.

No matter who you choose, remember to name a backup individual or couple in case your first choice either can’t or won’t serve if the time comes.

Holding Your Assets

It’s also advisable you consider setting up a trust your assets you wish to leave your child. If you don’t, Florida law requires minors entitled to property over $15,000 be appointed a guardian by the Court. Not only are guardianships expensive and administered by Courts, at age 18 Florida legally considers the minor child an “adult” and mandates all the property and/or money be given to the 18-year old for them to handle as they choose. This can lead to foolish choices and blowing through an inheritance rather quickly.

If you create a trust, you pick the trustee – someone you trust to oversee the financial affairs of your child. Further, a trust does not have to give the child a lump sum upon reaching a certain age. Instead, you may elect a distribution timeframe and set conditions for receiving the assets when creating the trust.

Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Often parents fail to understand the need to make decisions and provisions regarding their minor children such as trusts or designating guardians, which can cost your child in the long run. For help making such critical decisions, it’s helpful to work with the experienced Florida estate planning attorneys at The Legacy Law Firm to protect your children’s best interests. Call us today at (954) 999-9683 or contact us online to discuss your unique situation, learn more, and get started.