Protecting Your Children When You’re Not Around
From the Desk of San Diego Trust and Estate Attorney, Kristina Hess… serving all of San Diego County
Do you know anyone who has ever been arrested or otherwise detained without good cause? A few years back a story broke in Texas about a soccer mom who was actually cuffed and carted off to jail . . . for not wearing her seatbelt! The woman’s children were in the car at the time of the incident. What do you think happened to them while their mother was incarcerated? Can you imagine how she must have felt not knowing what would happen to her children?
As students of the law, we could spend hours dwelling on the subject of constitutional law, unreasonable searches and seizures, and unlawful arrests, but as professionals we focus our attention on helping you take the appropriate steps to protect you and your children, no matter what the circumstances may be. So we are going to write a series on how you can make sure you children are properly cared for in your absence, whether that absence occurs by death, disability, or for any other reason.
The System is Your Reality, Unless You Opt Out
When it comes to caring for children while parents are unavailable, the system requires an “opt out.” That simply means the system and its general rules, whether those rules are good or bad, apply as the default. It means, in short, that if you and your spouse are ever unable to provide care for your children even temporarily, a judge will decide whose care they should be put in and what is best for them.
If you want a different set of rules to apply—if you want to maintain any semblance of control over who watches and raises your children, even in short-term scenarios, then you need to formulate and implement a Kids Protection Plan®.
In a nutshell, the legal system works like this: If you and your spouse become unavailable to parent your children for any amount of time, your children will be placed in the care of a state run child protection agency. From there, depending on how long you will be unavailable, the judge can order your children to be placed in the custody of one of your relatives or even in foster care and beyond the reach of your loved ones. In short, you will have very little if any say in who takes custody of your children. That’s scary, to say the least.
Setting A Backstop
There are a number of really valuable benefits to forming a Kids Protection Plan. Today we highlight two features.
- It’s a process that will force you to reflect. Formulating a plan requires you to take a hard look around and decide on who you trust to raise your children in your absence. You can (and should, in most cases) designate one person to care for your children and one person to manage their financial estate. It’s not advisable to only choose a couple as primary caregivers, because . . . well . . . couples sometimes split up. If that happens, it’s just one more opportunity for a judge to intervene. This is also your opportunity to have very deep conversations with the people you would entrust to care for your children.
- Your plan will cause your judgments and choices to be honored above those of a judge who is a complete stranger to you and your children. By developing and implementing a plan, you set the default rules in your favor, and the legal system will then be forced to honor your wishes.
Get Kid Protection Planning
If you don’t already have a plan in place to protect your children in the event that something renders you unable to parent, then you need to develop one now! It’s absolutely critical. Just think of all the horror stories you hear about foster care . . . don’t allow your children to be a victim of the system. Call us today to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session, and we’ll focus on helping you create a plan to safeguard your children when you are unable to protect them yourself.
Call our voicemail at 858.461.6844 and we will set something up.
San Diego Estate Attorney