Who Will Take Care of My Kids If Die?
Because creating a will and estate planning isn’t something that is on the forefront of most people’s minds, an unfortunate number of parents have unexpectedly passed away with no legally binding plan in place for their children. Do you know who will take care of your kids if you die without a will?
State governments have foster care systems ready if you child is left without a legal Guardian. It’s a necessary system for lots of reasons, but if you’re like most people, you won’t want your child being taken into state custody and away from people who love them.
(Related: Need some help choosing a Guardian for your child? Click here for some tips.)
It might not seem likely to happen to your family, but it can and does happen all too often. Here are some facts about foster care for you as a parent to think about:
More than 400,000 kids per year are placed in foster care nationwide.
Many have been abused, abandoned or neglected, but some are placed there because their parents never made a plan for them.
Without legal instructions as to their care, Child Protective Services are called in to take possession of children when they are are left without a legal Guardian. If this were to happen to your kids, someone in your family would have to petition to be appointed their official Guardian.
If no claim is made, or the courts deem that none of the petitioners are qualified, your children can be put into the foster care system, where they can remain until they become of legal age.
In Virginia, that age is 21.
Startling Statistics of Children in Foster Care
According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, dozens of children each year enter the foster care system in Virginia because their mother, father or both died without leaving a will.
Without notification of your wishes as to their care, your children could be put into the care of the courts.
As statistics show, kids raised in the foster care system do not fare as well as those cared for in their own families. We see lower rates of graduation and increased substance abuse rates among those who are currently in or have gone through foster care. We’ve also seen higher rates of incarceration and shorter life expectancy for these children.
Although the system is well-intended, you can see how kids who enter the foster care system because their parents have no will, or for any other reason, will have a lot more challenges ahead of them than kids who are raised within their families.
Keep Your Kids Out of the Foster Care System by Creating a Will
The best way you as a parent can protect your child’s future is to create a will. With an official will, you can:
Designate first responders to your incapacitating emergency or death. Without it, the police are required to contact Child Protective Services.
Provide instruction to these responders and caregivers.
Define legal long-term care guardians. Without this, every family member has equal priority, with the state making the final guardian decision.
Allocate resources for their long-term care.
Protect their inheritances.
More Resources for Protecting Your Children with Estate Planning
Don’t just keep wondering “who will take care of my kids if I die?” Think through the people in your life who you’d be comfortable having custody of your children should you pass away, and then take action to set them up as Guardians for your kids. The simple process of creating a will can protect them for life.
Want to learn more about how to use estate planning to protect your children? Click here.
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