When you’re a young married couple and have yet to earn your “fortunes,” making out a will often doesn’t seem important. But what some couples don’t realize is that a will can protect your children. If you die unexpectedly without a will, what happens to your children? Who will take care of them? Who will the court assign as their guardian?
Through a will or affidavit, you can assign a guardian for your child in the event that you and your spouse die. However, when you make no legal provisions, the court will decide for you, based on Texas statutes.
Using Estates Code Title 3 you can fill out a form that designates a guardian for your children in the event that you die or become incapacitated.
The Texas Guardianship Association explains there is an order of priority that courts follow for assigning a guardian when a child’s parent dies. Guardianship assignment goes in this order:
A surviving parent
A person designated by the last surviving parent
Next of kin
If more than one grandparent is surviving, the court will decide which grandparent to assign based on the best interests of the child. Again, when guardianship falls to the next of kin and there is more than one next of kin, the court awards guardianship to the relative whom it deems is in the child’s best interests. When no relatives exist, or no relative is capable or willing to take guardianship, the court will appoint an individual who is qualified to care for the child.
Sometimes families get into lawsuits and contest guardianships when parents die without a will. By legally designating a guardian, you can often prevent contested guardianship lawsuits among relatives.
No one expects sudden death or incapacity, but it is smart to put a plan in place. At C.E. Borman & Associates, we can answer your legal questions and provide you with sound legal advice.