Back to School: Emergency Contacts
It’s Back-to-School time, which means that you have to fill out those “emergency contact” forms again. It’s important that you fill them out properly, naming emergency contacts who have the legal authority to care for your kids and who know what the plan is and who they should contact if something happens to you, the parent. I thought I’d put together some tips for parents who are filling out these forms.
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1. Have Long-Term Guardians Legally Designated
You need to legally name long-term guardians who can care for your child if something happens to you, like if you die or are incapacitated. It’s best to work with a lawyer to get these guardians named, but you can also use my Guardian Plan kit if you need a quick, affordable option. If you haven’t legally named guardians, it will be up to a judge to decide who the best option for guardian is for your kids, and that judge may have a very different idea about what good parenting entails than you do.
2. Name Short-Term Guardians
In addition to long-term guardians, you must name short-term guardians who can pick up your kids within 20 minutes or so if you have an emergency. Many of my clients name long-term guardians who live out of town, so naming short-term guardians is essential. The alternative is that your child winds up in foster care until your long-term guardian can sort things out with the court.
3. Fill Out Emergency Forms from School Correctly
Now you’re ready to fill out emergency contact forms in a way that is legally significant. You can list your short-term guardians as the emergency contacts, and know that if something happens to you, your child will be cared for by people you know.
4. Communicate with All Parties
It’s also important to communicate with everyone about what the plan is. That means short and long term guardians need to know what to do if called upon. It means that if you have an older kid, they should know what the plan is as well. I prepare letters to all of my clients’ guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries, so that they know what role they may be called up to serve in and they have my contact info so that I can help them during a difficult time.
5. Give Instructions to Caregivers and Guardians
All caregivers need instructions on what to do if something happens to you. Nannies, babysitters, etc., all need to know who the short-term guardians are and how to contact them. Your guardians need instructions on everything from food and allergies to finances and education when it comes to raising your kids. I give my clients resources to be able to communicate with caregivers and guardians effectively.
6. Regularly Review and Update Your Plan
Last, it’s super important to regularly review and update your plan. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can execute once and then forget about forever. Kids change, guardians change, life changes, and you need to make sure that your plan always reflects the life you are living now and the one you are planning for the future. I provide a free plan review for my clients to make sure that their plan is always up to date.
If you need to get these documents prepared for your child, call an estate planning attorney today. I can help you with these if you are in Oregon.
If you want to get started on your estate plan, read about our estate planning services and schedule an appointment.
To your family's health + happiness.
~Candice N. Aiston
P.S. Want to get started slowly but surely, naming guardians for your kids? Check out our Guardian Plan kit.
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Candice N. Aiston is an Legal Planning Attorney for Estates + Businesses in the Portland, Oregon area. She helps people to prepare for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance. If you would like to receive her free reports, please visit http://aistonlaw.com/ to sign up. Follow her Facebook page for daily planning tips: https://www.facebook.com/aistonlaw/.