If your child is starting preschool, daycare, or elementary school, you’ve probably already been asked to complete the school’s emergency contact form. The school will release your child to your emergency contact in the event of an emergency, but would that form be sufficient if the emergency lasted more than a couple hours? None of us wants to think about it, but if we should happen to be involved in a serious accident, would our neighbors who kindly offered to serve as a temporary emergency contact on that school form be legally empowered to care for our children overnight? What about for a couple days or even a week? Would we want to ask them to do so and would they want to accept that kind of burdensome responsibility for our children, particularly in a time of crisis for our children?
If you have already legally named temporary emergency guardians for your minor children, you should provide a copy of that legal instrument to your child’s school along with their emergency contact form. You should also be sure your child’s named emergency guardians have copies in their possession to bring with them if possible if they are ever called upon to serve that way. You should also have documentation in your possession and on your person at all times alerting emergency responders to the fact that you have minor children and directing them to contact the named guardians with legal authority to care for the children. Finally, you need to provide information in a readily accessible format and keep it in a handy place and discuss with all of your children’s caregivers whom to call and in what order in the event of an emergency.
Perhaps that sounds like overkill or a bit daunting but I assure you it’s really very simple. And just consider the minimal extra effort required on your part to avoid the possibility of your children being temporarily placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families (a/k/a “DCF” or “the agency formerly known as DSS” a/k/a CPS). That’s why this comprehensive temporary emergency planning for minor children is part of every estate plan I create with my clients. This is my focus and my passion; it’s taking my motherly perspective and applying it to the estate planning context.
If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your minor children in the event of an emergency no matter where you or they are, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (781) 740-0848.