This is not a topic any parent likes to think about. It is, however, every parent’s responsibility to ensure that a plan is in place in case the parents predecease the child. Though many parents have in mind who will likely care for their children in the event of their death, or even have verbal agreements with certain friends or family members, it is far preferable to have this plan in writing. This better ensures a smooth transition for your children and their new caretakers should the unthinkable occur.
If the parents already have a will, it often includes guardianship provisions, which provide evidence to a court regarding the parents’ intent as to who should care for the child after their death. However, there is a better way. Under Florida law, the parents can complete a Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian document. This document must comply with the specific requirements of the statute and be filed with the clerk of court.
Upon the death of the parents, the court will appoint the named guardian for the child, unless the court decides that the named guardian’s appointment is not in the best interests of the child. If the court has to appoint a guardian, Florida law first considers blood relatives. Non-family members may also be appointed if the court finds that to be in the best interests of the child. The guardianship will be court-supervised with the guardian’s initial and then annual submission of a care plan for the child.
If you or someone you know need help with this issue, an experienced family lawyer can assist you in discussing these issues and securing expert help to guide you in making these important decision for your child.