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Basics of Estate Planning (Part 5)

Basics of Estate Planning Standby Guardian

In part five of Siedentopf Law’s series on the Basics of Estate Planning, attorney Sarah Siedentopf talks about Standby Guardians for your children. A Standby Guardian takes custody of a child in case of a medical emergency or unforeseen circumstance. If you have a family, this designation is an essential estate planning document.

TRANSCRIPT: Hi, I’m attorney Sarah Siedentopf and I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. Estate planning basic documents: today we’re talking about the designation of standby guardian. This is a less well-known and less well-understood document. But if you have minor children, it is a very, very important basic estate planning document. You may have a guardian set up for a child in a will and you know that when you die this person will take charge of your child, will legally be able to make decisions. You have nominated someone. What is often not understood is that should you be in the hospital or sick or out of the country and unable to return for some reason, the person you’ve designated in your will has no authority whatsoever because the will is only a piece of paper at that point. It only becomes a binding document after you die. So, if something happens to you and you’re in the hospital, you’re ill, for whatever reason you can’t take care of your child, you need the designation of standby guardian. The name implies that this person is standing by for whatever is needed and often you will choose someone, a friend, someone who lives locally as opposed to the family member who lives far away that might be a best choice for a long-term guardian, because you’re hoping that this will be short term, keep the kids in school where they are, wait for you to get better, and be able to come back and take charge again. But having that designation of standby guardian in place means that if something happens to you, your children won’t have to wait and go to foster care while we figure out, you know, which family member will take them and much of the trauma will be removed from the situation. So, if you have minor children, the designation of standby guardian is a basic estate planning document that you will definitely want. If you have questions about this document, please let me know. Thanks.

To learn more about Standby Guardians, you can read our blog How to Protect Your Child with a Standby Guardian.

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