By: Alexis Martin Neely
Another story of failed legal planning hit the news this week,
as a single mother from California died during the birth of her fourth
child leaving behind four little ones and no guardianship directives.
To complicate things further, the father of these children is not
(and has never been) in the picture to claim responsibility. So fearing
the kids would end up separated in the state welfare system, a neighbor
(who also has six children of her own), stepped up to the plate. And
thankfully the Los Angeles community has stepped up to the plate by
donating diapers, clothing, food, etc. for the now mother of 10.
But in most cases, stories like this one don’t have such a happy
ending. The sad reality is that children are placed in situations their
parents would’ve never have dreamed possible because they didn’t take
the time to plan ahead in the case of their unexpected death or
Let this be a wakeup call for you.
There are three simple things that could have been done differently
to ensure these kids were taken care of upon their mother’s
passing. And if you have little ones at home counting on you, I urge
you take these steps now to ensure a legacy-and not regrets-are what
you leave behind:
1. Get a Term Life Insurance Policy- For a small
amount of money each month, this mother of three with a fourth on the
way could have been paying for a life insurance policy so that her
children were provided for financially should something happen to her
(especially knowing that their father was not in the picture and would
not contribute to their care financially). Because she did not have
life insurance in place, her children are now forced to rely on
handouts and charitable donations from neighbors until they are old
enough to support themselves.
2. Name Short-Term and Long-Term Guardians– While
this story “seems” to have a happy ending with the neighbor stepping up
to raise the four children and keep them all together, will she really
be able to manage raising ten children? Maybe there was another friend
or a family member who would have raised these kids EXACTLY as their
mom would have wanted, but we’ll never know because she didn’t document
her choices for her kids’ care.
3. Create a Legacy of Non-Tangible Assets– This
mother unexpectedly died during childbirth. Because of this, her
newborn baby will never hear the sound of her voice or know firsthand
what her mother’s values were or how she would have guided her about
things like spirit, money, discipline, education, sex, or health
care. As parents, even if you don’t have any money to leave behind, you
can leave your children a gift of your values – who you are and what’s
important to you. You can do that for free by writing letters or
recording a CD for your children. If you work with a Personal Family Lawyer®, this is just part of the legal planning process and becomes a gift that is far greater than all the money in the world.
Ideally, the best way to ensure the well-being and care of your family is to meet with a Personal Family Lawyer®-but
if that’s not feasible for you at the moment because of time or
financial constraints or because there isn’t one in your neighborhood,
I’ve given you steps you can take in the interim. My number one
suggestion is to grab a Kids Protection Planning Kit and a digital recorder or a video recorder. The Kids Protection Planning Kit
will walk you through the legal documentation process and even has
forms you can complete to leave instructions to your guardian. But,
even better than writing them out, speak them. Leave your kids an audio
or video message from you – that’s truly priceless.
Regardless of how you chose to go about it, take the time to get
your affairs in order while there’s still time-ESPECIALLY if you have
young kids depending on you at home. It’s the only way to leave behind
a real legacy-instead of regrets-at the end of your life.
SOURCE: Family Wealth Secrets