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Custody and Death of a Custodial Parent

custodial parent's death and considerations of child custody

Custody and Death of a Custodial Parent

January 5, 2024

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Custody and Death of a Custodial Parent

January 5, 2024

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Child Custody Considerations After a Custodial Parent’s Death

Planning for Your Child’s Future in Complex Family Situations

As a parent, envisioning and supporting your child’s growth and potential is a joyous and critical responsibility. This holds true regardless of whether parents are divorced, separated, or together. Planning for a child’s future often involves considering the parent’s future, especially in the event of a custodial parent’s death.

Understanding Custody Dynamics Post-Custodial Parent Death

There’s a common belief that a custodial parent can designate a guardian for their child in their will, and the court must honor this choice. However, this isn’t entirely accurate. While a custodial parent can suggest a guardian, the court isn’t bound to follow this preference. In cases with a surviving parent, the law typically presumes that the child will live with them.

Legal Precedence and Parental Rights in Minnesota

The Minnesota Supreme Court case, In re N.A.K., highlights this issue. When a custodial mother passed away, her sister received custody, which the biological father contested. The Court ruled in favor of the father, emphasizing that unless a parent is unfit or has abandoned the child, they are entitled to custody upon the other parent’s death.

Financial Planning for Child’s Welfare After Parent’s Death

In many custody or child support agreements, parents are required to maintain life insurance for the child’s benefit. This provision aims to replace child support or financial support from a custodial parent. Both custodial and non-custodial parents must understand their rights and responsibilities regarding life insurance. However, this doesn’t obligate the custodial parent to leave all assets to the other parent. Thoughtful estate planning, including trust creation, can secure a child’s financial future while preventing immediate control of the assets by the non-custodial parent.

Preparing for Your Child’s Future in Uncertain Times

Considering what happens to children after a parent’s death is a somber but essential task. At Johnson/Turner Legal, we are equipped to assist you in safeguarding your children’s future. Contact us at (320) 299-4249 to schedule an appointment to discuss your children’s welfare and protective measures.


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