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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Lessons From the Berry Family Tragedy: Naming Guardians Who Could Care for a Disabled Child

July 29, 2011

Many parents know the importance of making sure they have legal guardians named who could care for their minor children should death or incapacity occur.

In previous posts, we’ve even explored some of the qualifications your chosen guardians should have to ensure your kids would be raised by the people YOU want, in a way you want if something happens.

But there’s one more important qualification that I haven’t talked about yet, and that’s making sure your guardians are prepared to raise your child should he or she develop unexpected and long-term medical needs.

This issue was sadly brought to light this week following a devastating car accident in the state of Texas. Parents Robin and Joshua Berry were tragically killed when an SUV veered into their lane and hit them head on. All three of their young children in the back seat survived, but two are now paralyzed from the waist down. The youngest daughter had less serious injuries and is recovering with a family friend. You can read more about this horrific accident here.

The children will now go to live with their aunt and uncle on their father’s side, Matt and Simone Berry, who admit the possibility of rough times ahead:

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Matt Berry told the Huffington Post. “The dynamic for everybody has changed so it’s really scary. I’ve got to be the cheerleader for a long time. It’s gonna be a long road to recovery in many ways, but I have a big bright light that I’m seeing at the end of the tunnel and I’m focused on that to make sure these guys have a really good life.”

And while the Berry children are fortunate to have an aunt and uncle who are dedicated to giving them the best life they can provide, will it be enough considering the children now need a life-time of care?

More importantly, is that even what the Berry parents would have wanted for their kids? If they could have peered into a crystal ball, would they have chosen Matt and Simone Berry as the most capable people to care for their disabled children through adulthood? They may have—or may not. That’s where naming guardians comes into play.

Only you know who would be the best person to care for your kids if tragedy strikes. Someone who would raise them with your values, take care of their every need and love them as though they were their own.

And in a situation like this, only you know who would make an unconditional sacrifice to raise your child if he or she was critically injured and required round-the-clock care. Careers may need to be put on hold, money may need to be spent and life could get flipped upside down in the event of a true medical emergency.

Who do you know that would step up to the plate? Who would face such responsibilities head on….and, on the flip side, who would buckle under the pressure to put your child into a nursing home and leave their care up to the state?

Remember parents, you have more control over the quality of life your child experiences in your absence than you may think. Simple estate planning techniques can help you put the right tools and insurance in place so that your kids are financially provided for and raised by the people YOU want if death or incapacity occurs.

It’s super easy and worth every penny if something tragic ever happens to your family. So if you’re ready to get started and protect your kids once and for all, give our office a call at (916) 241-9661 and ask to schedule a FREE Peace of Mind Planning Session ($750 value).  Let us help you put a rock solid hedge of protection around your minor children so they stay protected, no matter what!

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