For parents with minor children, a guardian plan is vital. You must name someone to care for your children if you don’t want the decision to be left to a court of law.
If you have solely adopted the children in your household and you want your partner to receive custody upon your death, you should have a guardian plan. Your partner may also wish to adopt the children to ensure legal custody.
Children from a Previous Union
If you have children from a previous union that you prefer to leave with your live-in partner, you will have to take additional steps to ensure this custody choice. If the other parent of your children is still alive he or she may have a right to custody. If you do not feel that parent is capable, speak with your attorney about how to avoid that person receiving guardianship. If the other biological parent has passed away or has relinquished parental rights, you can more easily name your life partner as guardian.
If you do not create a guardian plan, other family members may fight for custody. If you do have a guardian plan, but you suspect a family member may fight your decision to name your partner, you should leave a letter of explanation for your family and for the legal system.
Once you name your partner as guardian, you can include an inheritance in your estate plan to be use for your children’s care. You can do this through a trust, by leaving funds directly to your children to be monitored by their guardian, or you can leave money to your live-in partner with the stipulation that it be used for the care of your offspring. TBe aware, this latter choice would create a moral rather than a legal obligation.