Creating an estate plan is something every parent should do. One of the crucial items you will have to address is the person or persons who will care for your children upon your death.
Even if you do appoint a guardian in your will, it is not a guarantee that the person you choose will ultimately get custody of your children. Someone may come along and challenge the validity of your choice, a process known as contested guardianship. Knowing why someone may do this may help you in making a choice that weathers the storm.
The guardian is not a family member
When choosing who will care for children after death, a person may look outside the family. While this is not always common, it does happen. In cases where a person dies suddenly and the guardian appointed in the will is not a relative, the family of the decedent may contest the guardianship. When a non-relative becomes the physical guardian, relatives may fight to keep the minors in the family. They will have to prove that the decedent was not acting in a responsible manner in sending the children to someone outside the family.
The guardian has control over the minor's money
Drawing up an estate plan is tough enough, but adding kids to the mix can make it more difficult. You want your children to have access to your assets, but you recognize that should you die before they reach a certain age, someone else should handle the money. You can designate two people as guardians– one to keep physical custody and one to take care of money matters. When these two people do not agree, they may wind up contesting the guardianship of the other.
In the end, it is best to go ahead and speak to the people you will appoint as guardians both of your children and your money. You should also share your wishes with others so the choice will not surprise anyone.