Creating a Plan for Minor Children

Estate planning has many benefits, with one of the best being that it allows our clients to have peace of mind.  This peace of mind comes from knowing that your family members can be taken care of if something happens to you.  This type of estate planning is especially important if you have minor children.

Parents are often so busy that they don’t have time to think about planning for their death or incapacity.  A parent’s time is often spent thinking about getting kids to school, helping with homework, and providing a good lifestyle for their children.  Unfortunately, tragedy can strike without warning, from an unexpected illness, on a highway, or as a result another catastrophe.

Name a Health Care Surrogate For Minor Children

One of the top or best estate planning laws that can benefit a child is found in Florida Statute 765.2035, which permits a parent who is a Florida resident to create a “Designation of a Health Care Surrogate of a Minor.”  This designation allows a person our client knows and trusts to make important health care decisions for the client’s children when the client is no longer able to make the decision.  The designation paperwork can even allow our clients to name a backup surrogate if the first is unable to serve at the time he or she is needed.

Surrogate Designations now allow for several surrogates to serve simultaneously, giving any one of them the authorization to act.  This is great if, for example, you wish for two grandparents to jointly make health care decisions for your child if you became incapacitated.

A designation of a health care surrogate is important because these forms contain a HIPAA release.  Through this release, the parent’s give permission to the child’s medical providers to release confidential information to the authorized surrogate.  For instance, if the health care surrogates were the child’s grandparents, they may not be allowed to speak to hospital doctors if the child needed emergency care.

Guardian for the Person

If the parents were to die, a Florida probate court would appoint a guardian for the child based on what the judge determines to be in the best interest of the child.  A “guardian of the person” allows a parent to name his or her preferred person to serve this role.  This can be done through a validly executed will in Florida.  The probate court will honor your wishes unless the court finds the proposed guardian to be unfit for the duty.  This can allow a relative that is closely involved in the children’s lives to become the preferred guardian.’

Trustee for a Minor Child’s Property

Clients may also prefer to place a minor child’s inheritance into a trust, so a trustee can manage the property for the child until he or she becomes an adult.  If a parent fails to designate a trustee, the probate court will appoint a guardian of the child’s property if the parent dies.   A court-appointed guardian of property would release the inheritance to the child at the age of 18 or 21, which can be a problem.   Many parents often prefer the children receive the property at a later date so the child can receive the property at a more mature age.

For more information on how to create an estate plan for a minor child contact the Jacksonville estate planning attorneys at The Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today at 904-685-1200.

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