Category Archives: Guardians of Minors

What You Need to Know About School Emergency Contact Forms

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 (dgve@dgvelaw.com) or call (781) 740-0848. 

Wishing you and your children a wonderful start to the new school year!

The Grateful Dead and Random Acts of Kindness

When I was 12, my babysitter gave me the cassette tape “American Beauty” by The Grateful Dead. The rest is a long, strange trip. I saw my first show at Boston Garden and about 30 shows after that all around New England and the Mid-Atlantic before Jerry Garcia died. (Sadly, I seem to have lost my album full of ticket stubs in one of the moves over the years.)

Yes, for those who do not yet know me well, I am a serious Deadhead. There is no other music that has the capacity to cheer and bring me back to center like that of the Dead. It’s definitely on the labor and delivery playlist, and I love when my almost 3 and almost 5-year-olds request “Ripple” as a bedtime song. (They ask my husband to sing them “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue – as you can see, we have divergent musical sensibilities, though I like that hair ballad myself!)

Anyway, as I recall, the story of the Grateful Dead goes something like this: a traveller came upon the corpse of a debtor and took it upon himself to arrange a proper burial before going on his way. Later, the soul of that corpse joined the traveller and repaid the stranger’s act of kindness before revealing himself to be that grateful dead person. Today I was the recipient of some random acts of kindness for which I am feeling extremely grateful.

You see, I was goin’ down the road feeling bad today, hot, tired, and afraid of 33 more hugely pregnant days like this, wishing it still felt like the coldest summer on record. So I took a break for lunch, listened to Sirius Channel 32, and felt revived. When I came back to my office I was gifted two wonderful acts of kindness.

First, I received an email message from a client to inform me that she had just posted a great review for me. She had also passed along my contact information to a couple friends of hers who, after listening to her express relief in having done so for her family, expressed interest in pursuing estate plans for their young families and naming guardians for their minor children. Next, I received a phone call from another client who was so kind and genuine in his wishes for my comfort, health, and well-being and that of my belly baby, asking me to please take good care of myself even if it meant taking longer to get back to him with his matter. The combined effect of these acts of kindness was to completely turn my day around.

Yes, it’s still *hot* and humid and uncomfortable, but now I feel happy. I am so grateful to have such wonderful clients with whom I am able to connect on such a deeply personal level. I love my work and am so glad I took the risks and have made the sacrafices in going solo to make it possible to find this level of gratification while still being able to do good for others. As inspiration moves me brightly, I will now use this renewed energy to get myself back to work and beat it on down the line.

What Happened Next to the Couple Who Chose Lawyer A

The couple is transported to a nearby hospital where the husband is pronounced dead on arrival. The wife is comatose and connected to life sustaining machines, although two doctors conclude there is no reasonable expectation of recovery.

Meanwhile the high school babysitter starts to worry because it is unlike this couple to stay out later than agreed without calling first and she has to be home before her own driving curfew. The children are asleep and unaware, but the babysitter tries calling the wife’s cell phone. There is no answer, so the babysitter calls her mother to explain why she will be late coming home.

Two hours later, the babysitter’s mother tries calling the local police department, informs them that her daughter is babysitting and the parents have not come home or called as expected and learns that the couple was involved in a car accident and will not be home that night at all. She rushes over to the house to help her daughter and meets the police there. The children wake from all the noise, lights, and commotion, frightened and crying for their parents.

The police ask the babysitter where the children’s nearest relatives are, but she does not know. The parents only left the babysitter the wife’s cell phone number and where they were going that night. Police officers then ask the children who, because of their ages, can only indicate that “Auntie Christine” sometimes drives to their house in her car. Not knowing how to immediately reach any family members, the police call The Massachusetts Department of Child and Family Services (DCF, the agency formerly known as DSS) to arrange temporary placement of the children for the evening. The babysitter and her mother offer and try to insist that they will spend the evening with the children in their home, but the police will not allow it. A social worker arrives within an hour to take the children to a foster home overnight.

Thankfully, the next day the authorities locate the children’s nearest relative, their twenty-eight-year-old, single, maternal aunt, with whom they are placed. She promptly rushes to the hospital with the children to be at her sister’s bedside and pleads with the doctors not to give up hope on and please save her. The children are confused and deeply upset from seeing their mother that way and cannot quite comprehend and so keep asking where their father is.

In their Wills and Powers of Attorney which no one knew of, had copies of, or knew where to locate, the couple had named the husband’s sister and brother-in-law, who live in upstate New York with their two young children, as Guardians of the minor children. The couple had named the husband’s parents, who lived in a retirement community in Florida, as Co-Executors and Attorneys-in-Fact.

And so it goes . . . At this point, what are your reactions to the value of the level of service the couple received from Attorney A? Do you think Attorney A helped this couple accomplish their wishes and best protect their children and loved ones? Please leave your comment here. Thank you in advance for your contribution to this ongoing dialogue.