Are you lying awake at night worrying because you just had a baby but haven’t made a will or trust yet…or because it’s been ten years since you had that baby and you still haven’t found the time to make your will?
Concerned about the sister-in-law who can barely parent her own children but who you just know would petition the court to get your kids if something happened you?
If you want to protect your keiki from ending up in the home of anyone you wouldn’t want raising them, follow these six simple steps:
1. Select Long-Term Guardians for Your Keiki
Consider who you would want raising your children if you passed away. What values are most important to you? For many people, family is most important, and they would want family raising their children, even if it meant their children leaving Maui. For others, parenting style is most important. Yet others value raising their children on Maui or in a particular religious tradition most.
This can be a difficult conversation between parents, but that doesn’t mean it’s a conversation you should avoid. If you’re having trouble choosing, try this:
First make a list of the top five people that come to mind when considering legal guardians.
Then, make a list of the five most important qualities you are seeking in a guardian.
Then rank the potential candidates according to how many of your positive qualities they possess.
2. Document Your Long-Term Guardian Nominations Legally
It doesn’t count if you have your long-term guardian names sitting between your ears!
3. Choose Temporary First-Responders for Your Keiki
What if your first-choice guardians do not live on Maui? Or what if they are off-island?
You’ll need to name several people who live on the island of Maui who you trust to care for your keiki until your long-term guardians arrive. These people do not have to possess all five qualities you listed when brainstorming guardians. The standard here is, “who could care for my kids for a few days that would be more comfortable for my children than a foster home”.
4. Give First Responders Authority to Keep Your Children Out of Foster Custody
If you are interested in keeping your children out of foster custody in the event of your untimely demise, your temporary caregivers must to be able to authorize medical care for your children. Give them a springing medical power of attorney.
5. Make Sure All Caregivers Know Who the Temporary First-Responders Are
Be sure your sitter knows to call the temporary first responders if you do not come home, before she calls the police.
6. Exclude Anyone Who Might Challenge Your Nomination
Lots of us have these people in our lives. If you think someone undesirable might fight for your kids, exclude them confidentially.
Meg Obenauf is an asset protection attorney and the mother of two. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
* Article appearing in the September/October issue of The Maui Mama magazine.