Preparing Your Family for an Emergency during School Hours

Sep 2, 2016 | Minnesota Estate Planning, Parents' Peace of Mind Planning

Police beacon. Red and blue emergency flashing siren.Your children are in school, your spouse is out of state on business, and you get seriously injured in a car accident. What’s going to happen to your children? Do you have a plan to keep your family safe in the event something unexpected occurs during school hours?

Many parents mistakenly believe that filling out the school’s emergency card is sufficient. Sadly, this practice falls far short of what is truly necessary to protect your children in the event something tragic happens to you during the school day.

Even with a fully-completed school emergency card, your children could still spend time “in the system.” The emergency card only gives permission for certain named individuals to pick up your children from school if they are sick, but does not authorize them to take short-term custody if one or both parents are injured, unavailable, incapacitated, or worse. Without having alternate arrangements in place, children in this situation would likely end up spending at least some time with social services.

So what should you do? How do you create a solid emergency plan that will avoid confusion and ensure their children are in the right hands if tragedy strikes? With just three simple steps, parents can rest easy knowing their children will be cared for in the manner they choose.

  1. Name Temporary Guardians.  Parents should name short-term standby or temporary guardians as part of their Total Estate Plan. A properly named temporary guardian will have legal permission to care for the children in an emergency situation until a parent or other long-term guardian is available to take over. This individual should be someone who lives nearby and can aid and comfort your child in an emergency.
  2. Make Sure the School Emergency Card includes the Temporary Guardians.  In addition to listing neighbors or friends who are authorized to pick up your children from school, it is also vital that you list the full contact information for your authorized temporary guardians. In the event of a true emergency, a temporary guardian can step in immediately to care for your children. Eliminating the risk your kids may wind up in the custody of social services until a parent or other legal guardian can be located.
  3. Ensure the Babysitter Knows the Plan.  Emergencies can happen at any time. Make sure you give your babysitters and other caregivers detailed instructions regarding who to call or what to do in the event you are unexpectedly absent, including complete contact information for all legally named temporary guardians. Without this information, many babysitters will panic and contact the police. Involving law enforcement will also involve social services who may step in and take temporary custody of your children until a long-term guardian or parent arrives.

These three simple steps will make all the difference for your children and their caregivers in the event the unthinkable happens. In times of tragedy, the last thing you want is for your little ones to end up in the system, rather than the loving arms of a trusted friend or relative. If you are ready to put a plan in place contact me today to schedule a FREE Parents’ Peace of Mind Planning Session.