Most Georgia residents take a “big picture” approach when working on estate planning. They think ahead when considering how assets should be transferred, how to minimize taxation, and how to provide loved ones with all the guidance needed to navigate the aftermath of a loss. Many people even remember to include provisions for guardianship of their children, if the need should arise. But what happens when parents pass away unexpectedly? Specifically, what happens in the hours, days and sometimes weeks, before the provisions laid out in wills and other documents are put into motion?
For example, if a child’s parents or primary guardians die in an accident, the authorities often have no guidance on where the child or children should go in the immediate aftermath. Without a clear family connection or documentation of parental wishes, children are sometimes placed in custodial care until a clear path of action is determined. That’s especially true in cases where there is no family nearby, or when there’s a dispute between surviving family members about who should take the kids.
The best way to address this potential need is by drafting a clear directive about who to call and where kids should be placed if necessary. Be sure to include more than one option, in case the preferred friend or family member is unavailable. It’s also important to keep this directive somewhere it can be easily accessed if needed, which can be tricky for parents of young children.
Navigating these waters can be challenging. However, as with all aspects of wills and estate planning, taking a proactive approach is the best way to facilitate a favorable outcome. Thinking about short-term needs is an important part of preparing for whatever the future holds and can make a big difference if a Georgia family faces an unexpected loss.