Does Your Estate Plan Give Your Children the Royal Treatment?

May 19, 2021

If the unthinkable happens and your children are orphaned, who will raise them? Are you prepared to have them live with relatives you cannot even stand to be in the same country with? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle must grapple with that and other questions of child guardianship in the aftermath of their withdrawal as senior members of the British Royal Family. These are much the same issues all parents must face about their children’s future, even if few other parents have the whole world watching their decisions.

Citing untenable pressures and conflicts with some of their royal relations and the mass media in the United Kingdom, Harry and Meghan stepped back from their duties with “the Firm” in late 2019. They left their royal residence in England and now live in a mansion in California. They are still royals and remain Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Harry is still a prince. Even if your only title is Mr., Mrs., or Ms., you and the royals share some compelling reasons to create an estate plan for your children’s future.

For Expectant Parents

If you are expecting a baby, or you already have minor children (those under 18 years of age in Florida), you can appoint a guardian(s) who will care for them in case of your death. This reduces lawsuits that arise over custody in cases of sudden or unexpected death.

Harry and Meghan are awaiting their second child this summer, a baby sister to Prince Archie. Whether you are expecting your first little prince or princess or just one more in your lineage, you should use this time to create (or update) your legal documents. Be sure your Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is current and that it names your children’s legal guardians, including the baby on the way.

Sadly, Meghan’s miscarriage in summer 2020 shows how crucial it is for pregnant women to have a Living Will and Health Care Surrogate in case of problems during pregnancy or childbirth.

It is unknown what, if anything, Queen Elizabeth will give to her new great-grandchild when she is born. Less-royal grandparents should take pregnancy as a cue to update their gifting plans. There is nothing worse than being snubbed in a Will by accident, whether your grandmother rules over millions or just your grandfather.

Guardian Issues

Besides the fallings-out that Harry and Meghan have had with various family members, their parenting style is markedly different from that of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. Harry and Meghan have kept Archie out of public view, but William and Kate often show off their children to the press and public.

Think carefully about the guardians you want to list in your Will or when updating your Will. Families change over time, and so do relationships within them. One day, your brother-in-law’s wife is your best friend; the next, you may start butting heads. Ask yourself, is this still the person you want raising your children after you are gone? What if their financial or family situation has changed since you first named them? What if you have multiple children and you know that no one person will be able to handle your entire brood? Remember that nominating guardians for your minor children is one of the most important decisions you and your spouse will ever make.

Avoiding Royal Hassles

Your estate plan may not involve an actual estate with castles and servants’ quarters. However, it still needs careful planning, especially when you have children. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954)251-0332 or to get started on your estate plan with a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.