If something were to happen to you and/or your spouse, would the police or medical authorities know that you have minor children at home waiting for you?
Picture this: your children are at home and growing more frightened as each hour passes without your return. Their babysitter is scrambling to locate you and figure out why you never made it home.
Now, imagine social services showing up and removing your children from your home because they cannot find the legal documentation that says who the kids are permitted to stay with, in case of emergencies like this.
It is a scary thought, but as a Tampa estate lawyer, I know that far too many parents with minor children are not prepared for this type of situation. That’s why we recommend that parents of minor children take the following three steps to ensure that their kids are protected and remain in the care of a trusted family member or friend, should something happen to mom or dad:
- Legally document your choice of guardians– The first step is to select the people you want to care for your kids if something happens to you. If the guardian you select lives far away or travels a lot, you may want to name a short-term guardian who can legally care for your kids until the long-term guardian arrives. If you don’t take this step, the authorities may have no choice but to place your kids temporarily in the care of social services until a judge can make a decision on your behalf.
- Carry a Guardianship Card in Your Wallet- Create a card for your wallet or purse that lets the police or medical personnel know that you have minor children at home. It should include your address, home phone, and any additional information to get in contact with your kids. The card should also include your guardianship instructions so the authorities know what to do.
- Leave detailed instructions with schools, babysitters, and neighbors– Once you legally name a guardian, it is important to leave this information with your child’s school, babysitter, or even a neighbor. That way, if the police show up at your door, someone will have legal proof as to where your children should be taken in an emergency.
If you have not yet documented your choice of legal guardians and are not quite sure how to start, we invite you to call our Brandon estate planning law firm at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.