If something were to happen to you and your spouse, what would happen if the authorities or medical personnel did not know that you have minor children at home waiting for you? Picture this; your children are at home and more frightened as each hour passes and you have not returned. The babysitter is scrambling to locate you and figure out why you have not returned…
Now imagine social services removing your children from your home because they cannot find the legal documentation that says who the kids are permitted to stay with in the case of emergencies like this.
It is a scary thought, but as a Santa Barbara estate lawyer, I know that far too many parents with minor children are not prepared for these types of situations.
For parents with minor children, there are three easy steps you can take to protect your children if something happens to you.
- Legally document your choice of guardians– The first step is to select the people you want to name as guardians. If the person you select lives far away or travels a lot, you may want to name a short-term guardian to watch your kids while your long-term guardian arrives. Without proper documentation, the authorities may have no choice but to place your kids temporarily in the care of social services until a judge can make a decision on your behalf.
- Carry a Guardianship Card in Your Wallet- This is often an overlooked, but really easy step to follow. Essentially, all you have to do is create a card that you keep in your wallet or purse that lets the police or medical personnel know that you have minor children at home. It should include your address, home phone, and any additional information needed to get in contact with your kids. This card should also include your guardianship instructions so the authorities know what to do.
- Leave detailed instructions with schools, babysitters, and neighbors– Once you create your guardianship, it is important to leave this information with your child's school, babysitter, or even a neighbor. That way, if the police show up at your door, someone will have the legal proof as to where your children should be taken in an emergency.
If you have not yet documented your choice of legal guardians and are not quite sure how to start, we invite you to call our Santa Barbara law firm at (805) 946-1550 to schedule a consultation. We will help you explore your options and legally document your wishes to ensure that your children are protected, should something unexpectedly happen to mom or dad.