Ron Stark: We are joined, as we are each week, by attorney Larry Brock from the Brock Law offices in Chino. Larry you specialize in estate planning and you’ve been educating us over the last number of months of the importance of really getting your affairs in order before something tragic happens.
Larry Brock: Yes.
Ron Stark: Today I wanted to change topics a little bit and ask you about guardianship.
As an example, I have 2 young children. If something happened to me and their mom at the same time, what could potentially happen to them and what could I have done in advance to be prepared for it?
Larry Brock: If nothing’s done, the courts and the state will make a decision. Always the court makes …
Ron Stark: Not my first choice.
Larry Brock: You don’t like the court?
Ron Stark: Or the state making decisions for me?
Larry Brock: Oh come on. They’re so good. Here’s how it is, you need to name somebody to be in charge. It isn’t just naming them.
I was involved in a situation, or a buddy of mine was involved in a situation. Both parents died, they had a will. They named one of their relatives, a brother but the grandmother of the surviving child said, “No they should have named me, they would have. I’m good. They just didn’t think about me because I’m a little older.” It became a question and it was a trial in front of a judge, “Who should be the guardian? Who’s going to raise this child?”
Ron Stark: Even though the guardian was named, because it was disputed, it still ended up going to court.
Larry Brock: It still ended up going to … Because, the ultimate issue is, “What is in the best interest of the child.
Ron Stark:Of the child. Okay. Fair enough.
Larry Brock: Now, your definition of best interest and the court’s definition of the best interest and every one of your siblings and your parents, those logical people may be different. In this particular case, the judge, “Well, go live with the brother, the uncle for a year, and then go live with grandma, and then I’ll make a decision.”
Ron Stark: Wow.
Larry Brock: After the boy lived there, they talked about it, they said, “Well, with uncle, we had rules, we had husband, wife, nuclear family, other children. With grandma, we had fewer rules and we had Disneyland.” The judge said, “Okay, need a little more information to decide.” Asked the child to come back, The child’s about 12, 13 now, into chambers and talk to him. Came back and made a decision. Who got the custody of that child?
Ron Stark: Don’t tell me, Disneyland.
Larry Brock: Disneyland. What you have to do is when you plan …
Ron Stark: Now, before you go into that, in my opinion that’s not necessarily the long term best interest for the child. Are there ways to protect yourself?
Larry Brock: Yes. Think about it this way. If you’re going out and you need a baby sitter, you tell the babysitter what to do, you give them some instructions and say, “This is how we feed the child. This is where their stuff is.”
Ron Stark: Feeding, bed time, study.
Larry Brock: No X rated TV, whatever. Well, the typical guardianship declaration just says “I name somebody,” whereas you can create a nomination, or name somebody that says, “I nominate this person, and this is how I want my child raised. I have these particular beliefs …”
Ron Stark: Expectations.
Larry Brock: Expectations. Good word. Expectations, beliefs, this is the character I would like my child to be infused with.
Ron Stark: Your firm can do this?
Larry Brock: Yeah.
Ron Stark someone could come to you and it would be, not just filling out a … just naming a guardian, it’s going to be naming a guardian and a lifestyle or a way of being raised that you would like this child to have.
Larry Brock: Yes. Yes. In addition, we create a document that says, “We don’t want this person.” That document comes up if that person says, “I want to do it.” I don’t want my brother, he’s into drugs and alcohol and he’s been in jail 3 or 4 times. He shouldn’t be raising my child. We prepare it and we set it up so that when the judge looks at it and says, “What’s the best interest?” You know.
Ron Stark: There’s going to be clarity. “I don’t want grandma …” If that’s there it seems to me they can’t ignore that.
If someone wants more information about estate planning, guardianship or anything else, how do they get a hold of you?
Larry Brock: They can call us, the office phone number, 9095909545. You can go to my website, www.trustandprobatelawyer.com. Give us a call. Come in, we’ll talk to you. Free consultations.
Ron Stark: Awesome. Larry thank you.
We’ll be right back.