In today’s society, most things are done on the computer and saved to a hard drive. Important documents are very rarely printed out and filed in a file cabinet or folder. However, there are benefits to printing out legal documents including your guardianship plan.
Here are four benefits of printing out your guardianship plan on good ol’ paper.
Most people have passwords on their computers. If you should die or become incapacitated, how will your loved ones get access to your guardianship papers if you have a password on your computer? If they cannot figure out your password they will have to trust the judge to make a decision on who is best to care for your children. This will make it difficult for your loved ones to ensure your wishes are being met for your family.
Even if they are able to get access to your computer, they may not be able to figure out where you saved the guardianship papers. Everyone has a different way of filing documents on their personal computer. For example, one person might put their guardianship papers in the file titled “Important Documents” while someone else might put it in a file titled “Stuff to Keep”.
Having it already printed and labeled in a file cabinet can be the easiest way for your family to access it. In fact, here’s what we do when we create a plan for a client!
Verbal communication is not enough. It is great that you and your spouse agreed on someone to take your children and that person agreed to step in. However, you need a legal document stating who will be the legal guardian for your children. If you print out your guardianship papers, you can give a copy to the person who will be caring for your children and you can put one with the rest of your estate planning paperwork. Having more than one copy ensures that it will be found when needed.
Printing out your guardianship papers allows you to give them to your appointed guardian along with any other instructions you may have. For example, you can write a letter of instruction to them. You can explain your hopes and expectations for your children’s upbringing including education, activities, and religion.
Having your documents saved on your computer risks them being compromised by hackers. This may not happen often but you do open yourself up to the possibility if you are saving your guardianship papers on the computer. Other security threats you risk by saving your guardianship papers online are:
- Ransomware (software designed to lock up a computer until a ransom is paid) (very rare for personal computers)
- Data failure (data and documents can be lost due to software or hardware failure)
Hackers are not the only ones that can change your document. If someone really wanted to, they could log onto your computer and change your guardianship papers to benefit them. If you have them printed out and stored safely then they are much harder to be changed.
Printing out your guardianship papers has definitive benefits that will ensure your wishes are met if you are to become incapacitated or if you die.