This summer, Sophie Perkins was awarded custody of her orphaned baby cousin. The baby’s mother was killed by former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher in late 2012 before he turned the gun on himself.
This incredibly sad story made news this summer for several reasons. One reason being that neither Mr. Belcher, nor the baby’s mother, had any estate planning documents naming a guardian for their infant daughter. This provoked a vicious custody battle between family members over who would care for the infant and manage the millions she is set to inherit.
Baby Zoey is set to receive more than $1 million under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, including $108,000 annually over the next four years, $48,000 in the fifth year, and $52,000 each year until she turns 18, with the potential to receive that amount until age 23 if she attends college. Additionally, the owners of the Kansas City Chiefs set up an irrevocable trust fund which coaches, players, and the general public have all added to.
My children don’t stand to inherit millions. There will be no annual payout until they reach college should I pass on before my time. However, since their births, I’ve been cognizant that things don’t always work out the way we plan. I’ve made sure that my husband and I are the ones who decide who will care for our daughters if the unthinkable occurs.
If you have minor children, it is critical that you take the time to create documents naming who will care for them in the event of an untimely death. Costly litigation and tremendous family strife can be avoided with careful planning.
Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney Andrea Claus.
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