If you have minor children, you must have a will.
I usually began my talks at seminars with this strong, unequivocal statement. Why do I say that?
Simply put, in their will, parents are provided the only opportunity available to them to appoint a Tutor, the person that they personally choose and designate will raise their children in case both parents die together.
Choosing whom to name as Tutor is usually a very tough decision that parents must make. It is such a difficult decision that many parents never do it. I am convinced they just don’t want to even contemplate the situation, which is understandable. But it needs to be well thought out and then actually done.
If you do have minor children, let me ask you a question that I believe will make you start thinking about getting a will done. If you don’t formally appoint a person to act as Tutor for your child, do you know who makes that decision? Answer: A judge.
I know a lot of judges, and I like most of them, but I would not want any of them choosing who will be the person responsible for the raising of my children. The person appointed by the judge in some cases may not be your first choice, or in some situtations, may be the one person you would never want to raise your children. What are the chances the judge will choose the one person you would have wanted to serve as Tutor? Are you willing to take that chance? Probably not.
Now, before sitting down with an attorney to draft your will, you and your spouse should carefully consider whom you would like to appoint as Tutor. In making this decision, you must remember that the person you name as Tutor will be raising your child until he or she reaches the age of majority, which in Louisiana is at the age of 18. Thus, you want to make certain that the person you choose shares the same values held by you and your spouse.
Who can be named as Tutors? Anyone. Some people name other family members or some even name family friends.
You also need to name an Undertutor, who is a substitute named in case the Tutor cannot act for any reason.
At this point, parents throw there hands up and say, “I can’t think of one person, and now I need to name two people."
This is where an estate planning attorney can assist you. The attorney will work with you through your available choices and help you in choosing your best options.
Naming a Tutor is just one small aspect in the drafting of your will and your overall estate plan. An estate planning attorney will guide you through the myriad of options available to you in forming an estate plan that best fits your own individual needs. I hope this article shows the importance of planning now for the unforseen events in the future.