Thursday, January 5, 2012

Guardians

After the emotional events of this week, I called my lawyer with one of the hardest questions that a parent ever considers, the issue of designating a guardian, in the G-d Forbid event that something happens to you, the giver of life and primary care-taker.

My lawyer informed me that actually my brother and sister-in-law, who currently live in Washington DC, are not considered a legitimate choice in the eyes of the Israeli government;  my daughter was born in Israel and has been raised here, despite the fact that she carries dual citizenship.  He recommended that I find a family here in the country as the first option, and use my brother as an alternate, unless they end up making aliyah in the future.

I thought long and hard, and other than my oldest friend from college (B), I could think of very few families raising children whose approach to parenting I respected and emulated.  Too many parents I know, though they are not ruining their kids per se, do not set enough limits and do not invest in allowing their children to fulfill their utmost potential.  They coast, and as a strong and ambitious woman, I want the most for Raphaela.

I also feel it is important that Raphaela live in a house that shares similar religious and spiritual values, people who grew up the same way I did and can relate to my cultural background, those who maintian the traditions of Judaism and at the same time show compassion and tolerance towards those who are different.  My friend B and her husband complete that picture for me.

When I sat down to speak with them, B agreed immediately, and her husband, a very succesful and practical financial analyst, stipulated that he would only agree if he knew that I had provided for my daughter; did I have a "million dollar" insurance policy and other savings or investment plans in which she was the beneficiary?  They both also wanted me to know that if they felt it was in Raphaela's best interest to be with relatives in the States rather than freinds in Israel, they would do so.

I am 43 years old, and my lawyer is finalizing a will.  My G-d.  The one thing I did not tell B is that wherever Raphaela goes, thus goeth Harry;  I hope they like cats.

6 comments:

Midlife Singlemum said...

This is interesting as if anything happens to me we have agreed that DD will go to my sister in London. A good friend who is also a lawyer, told me that shouldn't be a problem. She said that it would only be a problem taking DD out of the country if someone were to object. As there is no one to object (i.e. a father or other relatives), she told me I didn't need to write a will. I wrote a letter of intent and sent it to my Sister and the close friends who would look after DD until mu sister arrived. My material assets automatically go to DD as the next of kin.

Sarah said...

It is a very responsible and correct thing you did, a loving act to make sure your daughter will always be cared for.

As for Harry, if your friends and relatives don't agree to take him, I hope you'll consider making alternate arrangements for him, even if it means separating him from Raphaela (if you were to die, chas v'shalom, having Harry around would be only a teeny comfort to Raphaela -- even having him there would do almost nothing to assuage her pain, so you may as well make things easier for her new caretakers by finding him a different home, if that's what they would prefer.)

I don't have a formal will (I'm single and childless and have few assets so I'm not soooo worried about it right now), but I made up a document (in my sister's keeping) explaining where all my assets are, paltry as they may be. And my roommate agreed that in the case of my death (poo poo poo) she would care for Artemis until she can find Artemis an appropriate home (not keep her forever, but make sure someone else will).

Nicole said...

Maybe you want to get another opinion from a lawyer? my lawyer told me that my DD can go to family overseas - as long as she is under the age of 8. Over the age of 8, they take her opinion into account, and if she wants to stay in Israel because her life is here, then it may become an issue.

Amy Charles said...

B's husband is wise. The last thing you want is for the people raising R to perceive her as a financial burden; there's no way to know what will befall them.

It does mean thinking hard about a trustee, though, and whether the trustee and the guardian should be the same person.

Doc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Charles said...

Incidentally, I'd encourage all SMBCs to do this before the child is born. You don't want to think about these things, but mothers still die sometimes in childbirth, sometimes have hard labors that do damage and require long recuperation. And if the birth is easy and everyone's healthy, you still have to think about the unexpected afterwards.

It's a good idea, too, to revisit the agreement periodically. People make promises they believe they can keep, but situations change. If, G-d forbid, something were to happen to B or her husband, they might not feel they could keep their promise. Or things could just change. So -- I don't know, every three years? Does that sound reasonable? -- I think an "are you still in?" is a good idea.