Last week, we discussed how important it is for new parents to establish an estate plan to protect their children's interest in the event of their untimely death. This week we are delving deeper into the topic by exploring why it is important to establish a legal guardian for your children.
As many Seattle residents know, our lives can be unpredictable. One minute you're playing with your kids, the next minute you become incapacitated because of a freak accident. When a person becomes incapacitated they often need to have a guardianship appointed.
There may come a time when a person in Washington will find themselves being appointed as a guardian. This role carries with it a lot of responsibilities. Guardianships are established for children or adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves. Children or adults who are mentally or physically incapacitated need to have a parent or guardian to act on their behalf.
This blog has previously noted the dispute over the guardianship of radio host Casey Kasem, and Washington residents may have heard the sad news about Kasem's recent passing. The passing away of a loved one can be one of the most tragic and devastating experiences and when that process is complicated by family disputes over the care of an incapacitated loved one, the results are heartbreaking.
Many Washington families have gone through the painful experience of arguing over how to take care of an ailing relative. These arguments can tear a family apart, and they can leave an incapacitated individual without proper care. Recent disputes within the family of radio host Casey Kasem have helped highlight the dangers of these arguments.
Many Washington residents don't think about estate planning until they become parents. This is partly due to the fact that beginning a new generation makes one think about leaving a legacy behind, but it is largely due to a very practical concern: Parents must decide who will become legal guardians of their children if they should unexpectedly die while their children are still minors.
Under Washington law, a guardian can make important decisions for those who can't make them on their own. Among these decisions are educational choices, whether to consent to medical treatment and managing finances. Parents are more or less automatically considered the guardians of their minor children, but a court must appoint a guardian when parents have died or when individuals are incapacitated by mental illness or dementia.
Even many of those Washington residents who don't recognize his name or his face probably recognize Casey Kasem's voice. For decades, he hosted the widely syndicated radio shows "American Top 40" and "Casey's Top 40." He was also the original voice of Shaggy Rogers in Scooby-Doo cartoons and was an announcer on NBC.