Three Ways to Protect Your Children in an Emergency

Kids and parents playing and estate planning 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 an elder care and 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.

1. 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 before 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 office 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.

Author Bio

Julianna Malis is the Founder and Managing Partner of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, a Santa Barbara estate planning law firm she founded in 2014. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, she has dedicated her career to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid and Medicare planning, probate, and other estate planning areas.

Julianna received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar Association.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google