Legal Question in Family Law in Missouri

I have a granddaughter that I care very much about, but I'm concerned about her future. Her mother (my daughter) separated from her ex-boyfriend (the child's father) not too long after she was born, due to him becoming abusive and violent. At the time of my granddaughter's birth, though, both parents were still on good terms, so the ex's name is on her birth certificate. After they broke up, my daughter and granddaughter came back to live with me and my wife. The ex stalked my daughter for a month after wards, so she tried to get a restraining order. However, he vacated his old apartment and the authorities could never find him to serve the summons.

My question is this: if something were to happen to my daughter, what would happen to her child? My wife and I worry that she would have to go back to her father, who we know isn't a fit caretaker. Is there anything we or my daughter can do to ensure that my granddaughter can stay with us?

Asked on 8/30/11, 8:45 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Joe Hensley Hensley & Nicholas

Your daughter needs to hire an attorney who will draft a will that states her preference if something were to happen to her. The law presumes that he would be the caretaker if she dies, so if she were to die you'd need to file for guardianship and put on evidence that overcomes that presumption. Her will would be strong evidence of that.

Do not try to do this yourself or "on the cheap." In other words, do NOT go to office depot or legal zoom or any other internet site or legal software or "free" option because those wills are very poor, usually invalid and will not work. You get what you pay for, and Judges will take notice if she actually felt strongly enough about it to go the extra mile and hire an attorney to make a custom will for her.

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Answered on 8/30/11, 9:49 pm

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