Who Gets the Children?

We have all heard the story of the shoemaker’s children – they never have proper shoes! This adage holds true in many fields, but it does not plague the families of estate planners. Estate lawyers have wills, because the risks of dying intestate (without a will) are simply too high.

My husband and I have three girls, all under the age of 10. Like most children, our girls are full of personality! So much personality that our parents probably wouldn’t have the energy to keep up with them on a full-time basis. We each have one sibling; one is newly married and just starting out, while the other is well-established but has a large family of his own. Neither of our siblings lives locally in the Maple Ridge – Mission area.

If we didn’t have wills, which of course we do, how would our two grieving families determine what living arrangements we would want set up for our girls? Would an answer simply be obvious to them? Would they work together to obtain a custody order from the courts, or would they find themselves at cross purposes?

Without a will, conflict can arise even between the most well-meaning of family members. I have worked with families who feel they have to pursue custody in honour of their deceased child/sibling. I have worked with families who feel the other family wouldn’t continue to allow access over time, or who do not share religious and cultural backgrounds with other potential guardians.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but all too often our ‘villagers’ don’t see eye to eye. Even if there were no other reasons (which there are), this should be enough to convince most parents of the need to draft a will.