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1510 28th Street, Suite 275 Boulder CO 80303  Phone: (303) 449-0055 |  Fax: (303) 953-5363 | hofgardlaw@gmail.com 

At Hofgard & Associates, we are dedicated to developing our clients into informed decision makers. We put you in control, first by listening and then by working with you to design unique solutions that help deliver an effective estate plan.

Everyone has an estate plan, but not everyone has an effective estate plan that satisfies the "5 rights:"

 

  1. Right ASSETS to the
  2. Right PEOPLE at the
  3. Right TIME at the
  4. Right COST under the
  5. Right MANAGEMENT.

 

 

Please feel free to visit our estate planning learning center for a free online education.

 

 

   

We offer the following services:

  • Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney)
  • Business Planning (Corporations, LLCs, etc.)
  • Probate Administration Assistance

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Picking a Guardian and a Trustee for Your Kids

In my twenty plus years of experience in the area of wills, trusts, probate, and guardianships, I have seen the heartache of the survivors many times when parents did not take the time to plan.  For example, in one case, the minor child of a deceased single mother was shuttled from household to household every few months when she became unmanageable and when the court-appointed guardian (“guardian of the person”) fought with the court-appointed conservator (“guardian of the property”).   All of this could have been avoided had the mother simply executed a valid will appointing guardian of and trustee for her child.

Often, I also see estate plans from office supply stores, software, or the internet that set up guardians and even trusts for minor children, but distribute the child’s assets outright to him or her at age 21. Now, I ask you (and myself), is it a good idea for someone to get hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions (with life insurance), of dollars all at once at age 21? What a great party I would have had if that had happened to me, but I’m not sure if anything would have been left to take care of my future needs.

At our law firm, we find that the largest stumbling block for parents of young children in completing their wills is the choice of guardian and trustee.  Either no one (understandably!) lives up to the parents’ standards, or Mom and Dad cannot agree on the best choices and backups.

Our advice is this - make the decisions, even if one parent must compromise more.  The reason this is so important is because you know what is best for your child better than a court does.  If parents do not make a designation and both parents die or become disabled, more than one extended family member may think he or she is the best choice.  In such a case, the decision is left in the hands of the court.  This is a shame, considering that a written designation by a parent takes precedence and can avoid this situation altogether.  Plus, you can always change your will later if you want to change your guardians and trustees.

Picking a guardian to raise children in the event that both parents die or become disabled is a tough choice for any parent to undertake. After all, a lot is at stake, and the possibility of such a situation might seem unlikely.  Try to think of choosing a guardian for your children as if it were any other decision, like refinancing your mortgage, and approach it methodically.  Here are some questions that may help:

 

·         What is the background of the person(s) being considered (family, friend)?

·         Are they financially secure?

·         How old are they?

·         Are they responsible enough?

·         Where do they live?

·         Do they already have children? Ages?

·         If they don’t have kids, are they capable of raising children?

·         Do they have time to raise children?

·         Are they healthy?

·         What are their views on education? Other cultural/social/religious/belief system issues important to you and your spouse?

 

Picking a trustee can be equally daunting.  Sometimes the guardian and trustee can be the same person if the guardian is financially responsible and you have no need for “a second pair of eyes”.  Otherwise, you may want to consider a different individual, or even an institutional trustee such as a trust company, bank trust department, or law firm.  The trustee should know that the job is to provide for the child’s welfare (e.g., health, education, maintenance, and support) and to make discretionary distributions to the child when appropriate.   However, it is important for the trustee to know when to decline a request for a distribution by the child or guardian if granting the request would be unwise.

A properly drafted will with a testamentary trust for minors addresses these and other issues and can give families, young and old, large and small, something priceless – peace of mind.

11:11 am mdt 


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Hofgard & Associates, P.C. * 1510 28th Street, Suite 275* Boulder, Colorado * USA * 80303 Phone: (303) 449-0055 * Fax: (303) 953-5363

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