Sam and Rose

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sam And Rose All Grown Up

We have spent several months considering issues that Ray and Liz needed to think about when choosing who should serve as guardian of almost-one-year-old Sam and his big sister Rose, who recently had her 5th birthday. 

Of course, we couldn’t just leave them at such a young age.  After all, estate planning is about thinking into the future at what might be…  So we aged Sam to age 20 when he would no longer have a guardian.  Then, he married Eve, who looked like a disaster to his parents and sister. 

Serving as guardian is only until 18.  Serving as trustee of their inheritances can go far beyond that young age.  It was crucial for Ray and Liz to think beyond the guardian role and consider the role of trustee, who would protect Sam and Rose’s inheritance ‘safety net’ from their parents.  

Sometimes the person who serves as guardian is the same as who serves as trustee.  For Ray and Liz, it was better to have Liz’s sister serve as guardian and one of Ray’s close friends serve as trustee. 

Our crystal ball is murky, but careful planning can go a very long way in helping those we love if the unthinkable happens and death comes far too early for us as parents.

To consider ways to protect your own family in your Will and estate plan, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reasons To Consider

Eight-month-old Sam will probably never need a financial guardian.  His parents, Ray and Liz, have just thoroughly enjoyed watching him learn to crawl and have no reason to believe they will pass away before Sam or his older sister/crawl teacher Rose are adults.

But their planning is necessary to provide care for them in case the unexpected does happen.  They decided to name Ray’s lifelong friend Ted to take care of the money Liz and Ray would leave for Rose and Sam. 

Ted is “good with money,” is close to Sam and knows Joy, Liz’s sister, who would be the personal guardian.  On the other hand, the money Ray and Liz would leave for Sam, including their life insurance amounts, would be a much larger amount than Ted has yet needed to handle for himself. 

So Ray and Liz are considering how to empower Ted to get the advice and help he would need to best manage the money for Rose and Sam.  One way would be to suggest Ted work with a specific financial advisor they trust. 

Another way would be to name a “corporate” co-guardian to serve with Ted in their Wills.  One example of a corporate guardian is the trust department of a bank. 

The bank would manage the money and do the accounting work, and Ted would decide with the bank what the children and Joy need. 

Corporate co-guardians can provide financial expertise to make the job of an ordinary person serving as guardian of a large estate easier to fulfill.  To consider your alternatives for your own estate plan, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Custody Versus Finances

Ray and Liz want Liz’s sister Joy to take care of their children, Rose and Sam in the event they were to die before they were grown.  However, they do not want Joy to have to manage the kids’ money for two reasons. 

First, as we talked about in an earlier column, she is not “good with money” and does not like managing finances.  Second, Ray and Liz know that simply taking care of the two kids will be a big responsibility and take much of Joy’s time and energy.  They want her to be able to focus on that, not figuring out how to invest the money from Ray and Liz’s life insurance policies.

So having someone else in charge of the kids’ money would be better.  Fortunately, there are two types of guardianship, and Ray and Liz can name different people for each type in their Wills.

The first type is called being guardian of the person.  That is the person who makes the decisions about Sam and Rose’s care – such as where they will live, what they will eat each day, and who will pick them up when they cry. 

The second type of guardian is the guardian of the estate.  That is the person in charge of managing their money.  That person makes sure any school or other bills are paid, that the money is invested wisely, and decides what money will be available to them before they are on their own.

To plan for possible guardianship of your children, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an estate planning appointment.

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Love Came Down At Christmas

Suddenly, quietly, it is Christmas Eve.  Wait, Christmas Eve is not quiet anymore, with Sam now 5 months old and Rose so excited about her 4th Christmas that she cannot sleep. 

Besides deciding the best presents for Rose and Sam, Liz and Ray are working out how to be sure love surrounds Sam and Rose no matter what happens.  They are deciding who they should name to serve as guardian for their children in their Wills. 

They did have trouble getting in touch with Santa to see if he would be willing to do the job if Liz and Ray moved on up to watch from far above before their kids were ready to be out on their own.  “Plus, maybe he’d get them lost in with all those elves,” worries Liz. 

So they have narrowed down their candidates to two, neither of whom are Santa.  Liz’s sister, Joy, and her family would shower them with love.  Ray’s friend, Ted, and his fiancée would welcome them with love and much excitement. 

Both are good choices, and both would face real challenges if events required them to be guardians for Rose and Sam.  But Liz and Ray are at peace with the prospects for Rose and Sam to always know that love comes down at Christmas for everyone, including Rose and Sam, even if Ray and Liz are unable to teach them that joyful lesson in person in the future.

We at the Gruber Law Office send out our wishes to all for a peaceful and loving Christmas, hoping that peace finds itself more at home our country and our world beginning this very minute.    

© 2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Family Roles

Liz and Ray continue to consider who should be named to serve as guardian of their children in their Wills.  So far, they’ve thought about Liz’s sister Joy, Ray’s brother Don, or their friend Ted. 

One factor is the guardian’s own family situation.  For example, since Ted is engaged, whether his fiancée would be willing to take on parenting Rose and Sam is important.

If the guardian has children, how old are they in comparison?  Are they healthy or need intense care and attention?  Would the guardian likely be able to merge the children into a new family if Rose and Sam were added as orphans in the future? 

Don has no children and is single.  Liz and Ray wonder if his ‘cool’ lifestyle could accommodate children.  And would Don be willing to make the adjustments that would be needed? 

Many parents say that having a child changes their lives completely.  Adding an orphan to a family, whether there are already children or not, is a similarly huge transition.

Considering the answers to these kinds of questions is useful.  For Ray and Liz, determining the answers can help them write letters for their named guardians to be read only if Ray and Liz were to pass away too soon.  It can be important to give permission to a named guardian to decline if it does not fit their situation as hoped – and a letter allows that, even after death.

For assistance considering your estate planning choices, including naming a guardian, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment. 

© 2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Contact Extended

Time flies; for his first Thanksgiving, Sam is already 4 months, and Rose is having her 4th Thanksgiving.  Liz and Ray are trying to decide who they should name to serve as guardian for Sam and Rose in their Wills. 

While planning their Turkey Day, Ray and Liz think about how a guardian’s location would matter for Rose and Sam to see their extended families.  But they also wonder whether attitude and familiarity outweigh distance and location. 

Joy would be great with her own (Liz’s) family, but how would things go with Ray’s family, who she barely knows?  Ray’s friend, Ted, loves family gatherings above most other things, so he has been to gatherings with both Ray and Liz’s families.  But who would think to invite him if Ray were not around?

One way Liz and Ray could help would be to put letters with their Wills.  Those letters would be for their guardians and/or their families to read in the event they died unexpectedly. 

The letters could encourage the guardians – or family members – to work hard to be sure the kids and friends are included in various family gatherings.  They can include anything, like how Rose loves to go fishing with her grandpa and would be heartbroken if that got lost in the shuffle. 

The more the guardian, family, and friends know about Liz and Ray’s hopes for their kids, the more likely the important relationships will be nurtured later. 

Thanksgiving is for appreciation, and we at the Gruber Law Office hope that you and yours appreciate each other, as we all gather to give thanks.   

©2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Picking people to be guardian of minor children is a difficult decision for all parents. Liz tells Ray that they can only consider relatives to serve. Although legally there is no such restriction, most parents do choose to list family members to be guardian in their Wills as a practical matter.

Serving as guardian after a child has been unexpectedly orphaned is a heavy responsibility, and Liz says she would not feel comfortable expecting a non-relative to do that.

Plus, Liz says her family know her (and Ray’s) expectations about how to deal with their children, having grown up with or seen Liz and Ray themselves grow up, watching them with their children and understanding much about how family relationships work in the immediate and/or extended family.

It might also be easier for family to help the children continue with their extended family relationships. For example, their own family gatherings will probably be the same ones Liz and Ray would bring Sam and Rose to themselves.
Relationship does matter, partly because it usually comes with familiarity. Many times, family really does “know us best” and so can be the right choice for guardian. On the other hand, there can be good reasons to choose friends rather than family like Ray wants to consider, which we will write about next week.

For assistance considering your estate planning choices, including whom to name as guardian, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

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