Last week, we discussed how important it is for new parents to establish an estate plan to protect their children's interest in the event of their untimely death. This week we are delving deeper into the topic by exploring why it is important to establish a legal guardian for your children.
There may come a time when a person in Washington will find themselves being appointed as a guardian. This role carries with it a lot of responsibilities. Guardianships are established for children or adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves. Children or adults who are mentally or physically incapacitated need to have a parent or guardian to act on their behalf.
Many Washington families have gone through the painful experience of arguing over how to take care of an ailing relative. These arguments can tear a family apart, and they can leave an incapacitated individual without proper care. Recent disputes within the family of radio host Casey Kasem have helped highlight the dangers of these arguments.
Many Washington residents don't think about estate planning until they become parents. This is partly due to the fact that beginning a new generation makes one think about leaving a legacy behind, but it is largely due to a very practical concern: Parents must decide who will become legal guardians of their children if they should unexpectedly die while their children are still minors.
When elderly people develop dementia or other problems that make it hard for them to make legal decisions for themselves, Washington law provides for a relative or another person to serve as guardian for the elderly person. However, this power is often strictly limited. A developing story from another state helps illustrate why these limits may be necessary.