Almost every parent I know has made a legal decision about who the guardians of their children will be, if both of them die. Here’s my first question; is it in writing? My second; are they still the best choice? However, even if the answer to both questions is “yes,” very few parents have gone to the next level and left written instructions for these guardians about how their children are to be raised, or cared for.
The following is a prototype for just such a letter I helped prepare for one couple. August 3, 2015
We thought it would be beneficial to write down our intentions in the event that both of us passed on prematurely. We have significant confidence in your judgment, discernment and spiritual maturity.
However, we’d like you to know certain things that are important to us. We have selected key items that by our mentioning them cover a broad range of circumstances and allow for you to see our heart’s intent for our children. We have made provision in our Will to cover all the expenses we address in this letter.
Our desire is that if you’re the guardians of our children, it would not be a financial burden for your family. Any reasonable additional cost for housing to accommodate our children will be covered, including remodeling for additional bedrooms, a larger capacity car and additional clothing and food for the children. The Trust will also cover our children’s expenses for appropriate vacations, family mission’s trips, Christian camps, athletic camps, tutoring, etc. However, our expectation is that our children will not live a lifestyle any different from your own children, except perhaps their choices of colleges.
Our hope would be for our children to attend Christian schools and our estate will pay for these expenses. The only college funding our trustee will authorize payment for, is any private Christian College whose doctrinal statement is similar to our church’s. The cost of tuition, room and board along with books and transportation will be covered. Our desire is that each child will have a full time job in the summer, during college, but would not have to work while in school. Upon your analysis of the maturity of each child they may receive a quality low mileage pre-owned car at age 18. Each child will receive their inheritance at these ages:
At age 18 each child will receive $10,000.00 At age 26 each child will receive $100,000.00 At age 35 each child will receive $390,000.00
Our intent for this stepped distribution is that with age, each child would grow in financial maturity as well as the grace of giving. Our hope is that while our children live with you, each child would be encouraged to give back to the Lord a portion of what they receive. We would be grateful if you made it possible for them to take a Crown Financial Course for teens, but this is not mandatory. We also ask you to help them find a Christian financial advisor to help them make wise financial and investment choices with their inheritance.
If parenting this larger family requires one of you to stop working outside of the home, we’ve instructed the Executor of our estate to gift you monthly an amount to make up the difference as long as it doesn’t effect our children’s ultimate inheritance or maintenance.
Our final, but primary hope is that our children would be raised to love Jesus, love each other and love others. We trust you to do everything you can to make this possible and we have every confidence you will.
If you have any questions or reservations about these instructions, please let us know in the next 30 days. If not, we’ll forward a copy of this letter to our attorney for safekeeping. He will also give our children a copy upon our death or at age 13, whichever comes last.
Our attorney is John Smith, his contact information is xxxx. The trustee for our estate is Peter Long and his contact information is xxxx.
“An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.” Proverbs 20:21
Your brother and sister in Christ, Bill and Mary (Fictional Names)
How following Jesus works in real life.
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