The Importance of Having a Will that Provides for Minor Guardianship

Web Admin - Saturday, November 28, 2020

Kenilworth estate planning attorneyAlthough you may not think you need it, an estate plan can provide peace of mind and the assurance that your family will be taken care of after your death. Documenting your wishes ahead of time eliminates uncertainty and disputes, while maximizing the value of your estate when it is distributed among your beneficiaries. This is especially if you have children or other family members who rely on you for support. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you with creating a will and trust that is appropriate for you and your family, including guardianship of any minors. 

What Is a Last Will and Testament?

Every estate plan should include a will, which is also sometimes referred to as a last will and testament. This legally binding document clearly states a person’s intentions or wishes after his or her death. The issues covered usually include who will act as the executor and who will inherit the estate. Regarding the estate, it can outline what will happen to the decedent’s possessions, such as whether they will be left to another person, an organization, or donated to charity. In addition, a will states who will become the guardian of any minor children.

Legal Guardianship of a Minor

Generally, only a parent of a child has the authority to make decisions about the child’s care. Sometimes, a parent is unable or chooses not to make decisions regarding his or her child’s care. In these situations, a person who is not the parent can become the legal guardian of the child. Legal guardianship permits an individual who is not the parent to make care decisions for a child, just like a parent would. This can include important matters such as the child’s healthcare, living situation, and education. For example, a minor cannot make decisions regarding his or her own medical care or treatment, only an adult can. The person with authority to make care decisions is called the child’s guardian, and he or she does not have to be a relative of the child.

One of the main reasons it is vital to include decisions about the guardianship of a minor in a will is when a parent dies. If no one is designated or appointed to have the responsibility of handling the child’s affairs, the court will determine who receives that authority. In cases where there is one surviving parent but he or she is incapable of raising the child, a guardian may be appointed to ensure the safety and well-being of the minor. Including this important issue in a will allows the person drafting it to be in control of who takes on this important responsibility. It is crucial to consider both short- and long-term factors of the child’s welfare, and who is best-suited for that role. Then, discussions between both parties should take place related to the specific wishes related to raising the minor. A Memorandum of Wishes can be drafted to address any and all concerns. This can also safeguard against relatives fighting over who should care for the child, which can cause great anxiety and emotional turmoil for the child as well as other family members. 

Contact a South Barrington Estate Planning Lawyer

Guardianship of a minor is especially important to ensure the well-being of that child. That is why it should be an essential part of your estate plan. Including this designation can help prevent arguments and disputes among family members in the event of your death. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we are ready to put our proven methods to work for you and your family. Our accomplished Schaumburg estate planning attorneys will help you draft an estate plan that includes guardianship of a minor if necessary. To arrange a free consultation, call our office today at 847-934-8000.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



The Dangers of Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving

Web Admin - Friday, November 28, 2014

hands free device danger, Illinois personal injury lawyerEveryone knows they should avoid texting and driving. Focusing on a smartphone screen rather than the road is a recipe for disaster, and may lead to serious accidents. This common sense principle has led Illinois to pass a law forcing drivers to only use hands free devices when they are driving. However, even though hands free cell phone use lets people keep their eyes on the road, it still does not entirely remove the distraction of speaking on the phone. Additionally, the use of hands free technology may also bring a curious piece of human psychology known as the Peltzman effect into play.

Hands Free Device Statistics

Hands free driving seems like it should make people safer, but some studies show it may actually pose even more risks. Either way, the statistics show that it can still be dangerous. For instance, even though only nine percent of drivers are using phones at any given time, these drivers are involved in 26 percent of all crashes. This is because 90 percent of crashes involve driver error rather than the environment or mechanical failures.

A lot of the problems caused by phones are a function of how the brain processes information. Although many people believe they are capable of multitasking, that is actually an illusion. The brain cannot actually perform multiple tasks at one time. Instead, the brain switches rapidly back and forth between the two tasks, but it does not do it perfectly. This means that the brain's visual processing can be reduced by up to 33 percent while on the phone. This can lead to people missing half of everything going on around them while they talk. However, that failure to multitask is not the only human mental quirk that affects this scenario.

The Peltzman Effect

People using hands free technology may also be falling victim to what economists refer to as the Peltzman effect. The Peltzman effect, which was originally identified by its namesake in the 70s, relates to the fact that people generally have a reasonably constant amount of risk they are willing to take. This can result in regulations that are designed to keep people safe actually having a diminished effect because people are then more willing to take other risks. For instance, people may feel safer when using hands free technology, so they may be more willing to drive faster or pay less attention to the road. Importantly, economists still debate how much extra risk the Peltzman effect actually encourages people to take. Although numerous studies have found evidence of its existence, the magnitude of its impact varies greatly between each study.

Distracted driving is dangerous, regardless of the distraction. If you have recently been injured by the carelessness of a distracted driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm helps injured victims across the northwest suburbs in towns like Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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