Do This Before You Leave Your Children with a Babysitter

Every family needs a estate plant to protect their assets and those they love

Now that we are moving out of the pandemic stage and moving into the endemic stage of COVID, many people are beginning to travel, go out on dates at restaurants and going back to their ‘normal’ lives.  Many couples are hiring a babysitter and going out on dates. 

We took a lot of risks before the pandemic began.  We never thought about wearing masks, we went out when we had a low-grade temperature, and we did not think much when people were coughing. 

How often did we get in the car with our spouse / significant other and go out to dinner and leave the children at home with the babysitter?  Think about the following scenario: On your way home, you get into a car accident. It is over an hour past the time when you told the babysitter you would be home, and she begins to call you repeatedly to see how much longer you will be. She has a test the following day and needs to get home.  After 2 hours, she calls the police.

The police arrive and find your kids with the babysitter, who offers to stay with the children until a relative can be found to take them. But because the babysitter doesn’t have the legal authority to care for the children—even temporarily—the police have no choice but to call Child Protective Services. These authorities will take your children into custody until they can locate and/or appoint the proper guardian.

This is the case even if you have friends or family living nearby who are willing to care for the children. If you haven’t left proper legal documentation, the authorities have no option but to call Child Protective Services. You must give the authorities a legal basis for keeping your children with the friends or family you designate.

What’s more, your kids are still at risk of being taken by the authorities even if you’ve named legal guardians for them in your will. That’s because your Will will only become operative in the event of your death, so if you are incapacitated by an accident or illness, your will would be ineffective.

Or perhaps the guardians you named in your will live in California, New York or Kansas. They cannot get to your home where your children are within an hour. It could take them up to several days to get to your children. If you haven’t made legally valid arrangements for the immediate care of your children, it’s highly likely that they will be placed with Child Protective Services until those guardians arrive.

And does anyone even know where your will and your medical directives are stored and how to access them?

Most Guardianships Are Lacking.  This is just one of the scenarios that can cause your children to be taken into custody by strangers or placed with a family member you would never want to care for them. At Scion Law Firm, we walk our clients through many scenarios so that parents can create well thought-out plans which will prepare them for any situation.   A thorough plan should include:

  • Legal documents that name short-term guardians who can be there immediately for your children so they will always be with someone you know and trust
  • Documents that provide the people you name as short-term guardians with the directions and the proof they need if called upon.
  • Instructions to everyone who takes care of your kids as to exactly what to do if you are in an accident, so there’s never any question about what to do or who to call.
  • Legal documents for your long-term guardians, who will raise your children should something happen to you and your parent-partner.
  • Letters to your guardians letting them know exactly what to do if called upon.
  • Instructions and guidelines for your long-term guardians on how you want your kids to be raised to ensure your kids are raised with your values.
  • Medical powers of attorney for your minor children, so the next time they travel without you or you travel without them, you know they will get the medical care they need.

 If you have already have a Will, either from an attorney or using an on-line service, there is a good chance you have named long-term guardians. Most plans do not list a short-term (also known as Emergency Guardian) nor do most provide the documents the guardians need to make decisions on your behalf. If you have any questions regarding your plan, please feel free to reach out to Scion Law Firm and we will review your plan on your behalf.

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