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Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell

Resorting again to advice columns for material. In “Ask Carolyn,” a reader with three children including a son with ADHD who has threatened violence is miffed that her pregnant sister has not chosen her to be the guardian of her forthcoming child. The sister has continued to agree to serve as the guardian for the reader’s three children. The reader believes that her sister is judging her parenting skills even though “every single day is a struggle for her due to her son.”

A few poignant and sad points:

1. The pregnant sister has two likely concerns about the reader – the ability of her sister to handle another child when “every single day is a struggle” and the possibility of physical harm to her child from his cousin.

2. I always advise my clients to discuss guardianship with the potential guardians. I do not advise telling someone that they are not the guardian because of the possibility of unnecessarily bruised feelings for a scenario that might never arise.

3. There is a never right answer on the guardianship question – there is merely a best answer or least worse answer. No one will raise your child the same way you would (nor will someone clean your house like you or cut your grass the way you would), but you have to settle for the best option considering all factors such as location, parenting style, educational beliefs, and demographics. Not having a child raised by a family with a potentially violent child who causes his mother to struggle every day is an easy decision to make.

4. I love people who think about estate planning while they are pregnant.

Photo Credit:  Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post

License:  Fair Use/Education

 

Guardians, Drugs, and Embezzlement

boston guardian

 

A Massachusetts man was appointed guardian of his niece and nephew when their parents died in a car crash in 2009.  The man was recently indicted for allegedly stealing approximately $250,000 from their trust fund in the 11 months after he was released from rehab.  He pleaded not guilty.

Three very quick points:

  1. I always recommend that clients designate different individuals to serve as guardian and trustee.
  2. If different people, the guardian should be able to ascertain if the trustee is stealing from the trust.
  3. Embezzlers are smart enough to not use stolen funds to buy tangible property, but not smart enough to avoid being caught.  Such is the lot of gambling and drug addicts.   

Eight Is More Than Enough (Seven Is Too Many)

sound-of-music1

Reluctantly resorting to advice columns for material.  A woman with 4 children mentioned that her friend with 3 children had asked her to be the guardian of the 3 children.  The first woman declined the possibility of serving as guardian after discussing the 3 additional children with her husband.  The second woman has since ignored her friend.  The first woman sought advice/affirmation for her decision.

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Priorities When Expecting a Child

Zoey Perkins is the 1 year old daughter of former Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins.  Belcher killed Kasandra last December before killing himself.  As the daughter of a former football player, Zoey will receive $1 million in structured payments over the next 22 years.  A Missouri probate court recently awarded custody to Kasandra’s first cousin instead of Belcher’s mother after a 3 day hearing.

Three points:

1.  When a couple is expecting a child, they should prepare wills to designate a guardian for their children so their wishes are followed instead of  giving the  decision to a stranger.

2.  When a couple dies without designating a guardian, sometimes the potential guardians are motivated by the financial status of the child.

3.  It is easy to overlook a will in the excitement of having a child, but the impact of designating a guardian is far more important than decorating a baby’s room.

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.