Protect Your Minor Children in the Event of an Unexpected Death

Q: When my parents died, I, an only child, was still a minor and my parents left me penniless, so I found myself tossed into the foster care welfare system because I had no other family. How can minors protect themselves from such abuse by parents that leave their children financially unprotected and exposed to state’s foster care and the welfare system? 

A: Unfortunately, minor children are at the mercy of their parents to do the right thing by setting up protections for their children should something happen to the parents. Approximately 65 percent of all adults fail to do estate planning of any kind and of the rest, about 1/3 of them still get it wrong. If you have minor children, be one of the few parents who doesn’t endanger them; prepare estate planning now. A simple will or trust can go a long way. Consider the failure caused by the following parents.

Kevin and Carolyn saved for 20 years to go on the honeymoon they never had. In late February 2020 they finally saved enough to take that honeymoon and purchased a travel package to Italy. Before leaving Florida on their trip, having no other family, they left Allison, their 16-year-old daughter, with close friends until they returned home. Almost immediately thereafter, their honeymoon turned into a nightmare and a family tragedy was in the making.

Two days after arriving in Italy, the U.S. President closed the U.S. borders to incoming travelers from Europe due to COVID-19. Travelers arriving in Italy had to present a negative coronavirus test. The unvaccinated were required to quarantine upon arrival. Italy was considered the country with the worst cases of COVID-19. That was just the beginning of the nightmare.  

Without hesitation, Kevin and Carolyn realized their need to return home. Unfortunately, airlines were limiting flights and they were stuck in Italy for 3 weeks before finding a flight to England whereby they were required to quarantine for another 14 days before leaving for New York. During their flight, they both fell ill. After arriving in New York, they were hospitalized with COVID and twelve days later they died. The nightmare wasn’t over.

Back home in Florida, Allison was now parentless and homeless. Since Kevin and Carolyn never set up any family estate planning, their friends had to give up custody of Allison to the state. A court appointed a guardian for Allison and she was subsequently placed into foster care. Because there were insufficient funds in the parents’ bank account to pay the mortgage on the family home, the guardian filed probate and subsequently sold the house. The funds received through probate were exhausted to creditors leaving nothing for Allison. She struggled with school during the period following her parent’s deaths and once she turned 18, she dropped out altogether.

Protect your family first before placing them at risk. See an estate-planning attorney today and learn how to protect your children, family and assets.

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Written by Kristen Jackson

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