Children are the Most Important Thing

Estate Planning

There’s been a lot of coverage in the news lately about the care and custody of young children of deceased parents.  First it was Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.  She didn’t have a will naming a guardian for young Dannielynn.  After a battle with Smith’s attorney and companion Howard K. Stern, eventually Smith’s former boyfriend Larry Birkhead was determined to be the biological father and assumed custody.

Then Michael Jackson died, and even though his Will named his mother Katherine as guardian, there was an attempt by the mother of the oldest children, Deborah Rowe, to obtain custody.  Katherine prevailed, no doubt assisted by the fact that Jackson had stated his preference that she care for his children.
In a recent case not involving a celebrity, but certainly more tragic, Massachusetts resident Julie Corey was charged with kidnapping a deceased former neighbor’s 4-pound newborn girl.  The baby had been cut from Darlene Haye’s womb.  Apparently Hayes had no Will naming a guardian of the child, and several people are now seeking custody.
Naming a guardian for your minor children in a Will is one of the most responsible things you can do as a parent.  While a judge can overrule your choice in certain circumstances, not stating your choice will almost assuredly trigger a fight for custody.  Wouldn’t you like to be the one to decide who raises your child? Otherwise you will be leaving it up to a judge whom you have never met and will most likely never even see your child.
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