If you pass without a will—intestate, is the legal word—a judge decides who takes care of your children and any money you leave them.

In Rhode Island, if both parents are deceased and do not have wills or a trust in place (The most likely way this would happen to young, healthy people is a sudden accident), the law will not allow the court to appoint a nonresident of the state as guardian of your minor children. R.I.G.L. § 33-15.1-8. Your sister who lives in Seekonk could be the best person to raise your children, but the court could not appoint her as their guardian.


This law exists because the R.I. court also has to keep track of your orphaned children’s money. The court will do this by requiring the guardian to make an annual accounting of how that money was spent. If you have a will or trust, you can name any guardian you chose, but either way, once a probate is opened the courts will require an annual accounting of how your minor children’s money has been spent. For most people, this will involve hiring an attorney to prepare the accounting every year until your children are grown.


The best way to provide for your children in the event that both parents are deceased is through a revocable trust.

You can name anyone you want as guardian of the children and trustee of their money. They don’t have to be the same person. Maybe your sister is a great mother and your father is the financial person. You are in control, not a judge. There will be no need for costly annual accountings to the court. A trust will not have to be court supervised—unless you want it to be.

Estate Planning &
IRA Beneficiary Trusts

I prepare all documents myself and am there to make sure the signing is done properly. Your file will never be handed off to a paralegal. I specialize in quality, not quantity.

Zona Douthit, Attorney at Law

Phone: (401) 305-8094
Fax: (401) 753-6303
Email: Click here to contact me.

Plan for Your Family's Future

"Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning."

– Thomas Edison

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