Have you done an online will? If so, you were probably surprised with the ease and the low cost. However, what you may not know is that your new estate plan is likely incomplete. Specifically, it likely lacks any Florida trust instruments, and if you have kids, it may not have sufficient or any guardian information.
What, why do I need a guardian?
If you are single or do not have kids, you may not need a guardian designation in your estate plan. However, if you have kids, you absolutely need your estate plan to include a guardian, especially if your kids are very young.
Why? Because, without naming a guardian in your estate plan, if you and your spouse (the other parent) die or become incapacitated, your child will become a ward of Florida, subject to the whims of a random family law judge. However, with the guardian, they will step into your shoes and take care of your child.
I do not need a guardian because the other parent is still alive, right?
Wrong. Especially for those parents who are still together, if one spouse is involved in an accident, the other spouse will likely be involved as well. For example, by far, the most dangerous activity that you engage in is driving, and since you and your spouse commonly travel together, if there is a Tampa, Florida, car accident, it is likely you will both be involved.
How do I pick a guardian?
Picking a guardian is a deeply unsettling conversation and search. Remember, though, that it is needed, and you are doing it for your kids. You should choose a guardian who has a similar worldview, religion and parenting style as you. Though, in some cases, it may just be enough to find people who love your kids as much as you do.
Is one enough?
It is always best practice to not just choose one guardian. Instead, you should have a list of guardians so that if one person cannot or will not be the guardian, another guardian is empowered. Remember, just because your best friend and her husband agree to become a guardian now does not mean that they will take on that responsibility when asked. Life changes. This is why you need to name more than one guardian.
First, if you created a Tampa, Florida, estate plan online without an attorney, you should have an attorney check it out to make sure that it has everything you need, and that it is legally enforceable. Second, your guardian needs to be well-informed of what they are agreeing to, and they should agree. Do not just drop a guardianship on someone. Finally, create a trust for the benefit of your children to help your guardian with those new costs.