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An Additional Tragedy?

May 07, 2012
The recent death of Whitney Houston was at best tragic. However, imagine the additional issues created if this tragedy had occurred a year earlier. Why? Ms. Houston's daughter was 18 years of age at the time of her death and considered an adult. But what if she were still a minor? Consider that under Georgia law, children under 18 generally need a guardian over any property they receive as a result of the death of the parent. Often that person is the other biological parent, even if he or she is your ex. Which could mean that your hard earned 401K which lists your child as the beneficiary could be controlled by the guardian of that child... which could be your ex, or another relative with whom you had a similar relationship.

What if you pass away and your new spouse has not adopted your child? It could be that the new spouse has been right there beside you raising your child, but he or she may loose custody to your ex or the child's biological parent.... with an expensive custody battle included. These situations are preventable with the help of a trust and estates attorney in the case of the former situation, and a family law attorney in the latter.

We really don't like to think about the inevitable. So we put off addressing those items that are so important, yet so uncomfortable. But failing to do so with a child under the age of 18 can result in a situation that harms the one you most want to protect and the one who would miss you the most...... your child. Is that really how you would want to be remembered?

Karen has an MBA from Boston College and received her law degree from Emory. She has an office in Alpharetta and has practiced family law since 1994. She is a Guardian Ad Litem and active Foster Care Advocate with area courts and is also on the Family Law Executive Committee for the State Bar of Georgia. She frequently speaks state wide on family law issues and can be contacted at 770-952-5000.
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