Potential guardian should know before will is signed
Stars and Stripes August 23, 2009
Dear Liz: When you create a will and appoint someone to be the guardian of your children, must that person be present to sign legal documents accepting the job? And can that person later change his or her mind?
Answer: The person you name to be the guardian of your children does not have to be present when you create your will or other estate-planning documents.
But you better make darn sure that you have the potential guardian’s willing consent.
Taking care of someone else’s children is a huge responsibility, and not one that should be taken, or given, lightly. You’ll want to have a full and frank discussion with this person in advance, including what financial arrangements you’re making to take care of your children should you die while they’re minors.
Even if the person consents, understand that nothing is written in stone. Should you die, the person still could change his or her mind and decline the job. That is one of the reasons why you’ll want to name at least one back-up person in case your first choice can’t or won’t serve.
Also, many attorneys would advise you to name one partner in a couple as primary guardian, rather than both parties. If the couple later splits up or one dies, you don’t want any confusion about who you wanted to take care of your kids.
As difficult as these discussions and choices can be, you should make the effort. If you don’t name a guardian, they could wind up at the center of a bitter court battle, or in foster care. Your kids deserve better.
Dear Liz: I did not like your answer to the person who was hit by overdraft charges. You blamed the lower-income banking customer for the bank’s policy of using the larger overdraft to create her subsequent multiple overdrafts and thus take more money from her. It’s the bank’s anti-customer policy that is in error here, not the person living paycheck to paycheck. Your answer should have started out by telling the customer to find a new bank, rather than essentially defend the bank’s policy. Your final 4 words in that answer — "take your business elsewhere" — just doesn’t give the rest of your answer credibility. I am disappointed enough to write you.
Answer: There’s no question banks aren’t being consumer friendly when they deliberately process the largest transactions first to increase the chances that subsequent transactions will bounce and generate more fees.
There’s also no question that low-income folks and seniors on fixed incomes pay a disproportionate share of these fees.
But the person living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a powerless victim. She can sign up for true overdraft protection instead of "courtesy overdraft" or "bounce protection," and set up a balance-monitoring system that alerts her when her funds are low.
Most importantly, she can take steps to change the way she handles money so that she’s no longer living paycheck to paycheck and instead has a cushion in the bank.
Dear Liz: This is in response to the column about outrageous bank overdraft fees. The customer who got stiffed should have gone into the bank in person and "pitched a fit." A similar thing happened to my daughter when she went away to college. I went into the branch to complain and was pretty riled up with my voice escalating in outrage. They took care of the fees very quickly and set up a better overdraft system for her as you said to do. They did not want a shrieking woman in front of the other customers.
Answer: That bank was smart to take care of a mama bear defending her cub. Unfortunately, most banks that inflict "bounce protection" on their unwitting customers are used to hearing, and dismissing, protests over the outrageous fees that result.
Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of the book "Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s at Stake." Questions for possible inclusion in her column may be sent to 3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd., No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or via the "Contact Liz" form at www.asklizweston.com. Distributed by No More Red Inc.