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Families of former NFL player fight over custody of child

Many Connecticut residents may think of a will as existing only for the disposition of assets after death. Yet, there are other important matters that, if properly spelled out in a will, can avoid prolonged probate litigation.

One such matter is the establishment of guardianships. It is good planning to name someone as a guardian, and even an alternate in the event the original guardian is unable to assume the role.

There are a number of factors that go into choosing an appropriate guardian. The person selected should have the child's best interests in mind, should be physically able to do so and should have the time available to care for the child. The guardian should also preferably share the child raising philosophy of the parent.

Without any guardianship designation, there can be a court battle among family members. This is presently the case for the families of a former NFL player who killed himself and his child's mother. The child's grandparents are now arguing over custody of the 4-month-old girl.

The player's mother received temporary custody after the shooting, and is seeking to become guardian and conservator of the child's estate. She also filed a petition to become administrator of her son's estate. However, the maternal grandparents have filed a petition to become the child's legal guardians.

There are millions of dollars at stake in the dispute, in addition the custody determination. The court will ultimately make its custody decision based on the best interests of the child. While the outcome has yet to be determined, the case highlights the need for individuals to name a guardian to avoid family disputes and provide for their children.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Mo. court to appoint lawyer for Belcher baby," Bill Draper, Jan. 11, 2013

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