When you and your spouse start your family, no one hands you a user’s guide on the essentials of estate planning for parents. Your focus is on care for a child (or children) growing at an astonishing rate. Estate planning may be the last thing on your mind. But even parents of young children should be prepared with a comprehensive estate plan that can protect the things that matter most. For many, this means their property and their family.
The first essentials of estate planning for parents are in line with what every adult needs in an estate plan:
A will lets you name the person responsible for your estate as well as who will inherit your assets (if you do not have a trust). Some attorneys also use it as the legal vehicle to name a guardian for your children, which we find to be deficient (see more information below under the Kids Protection Plan).
Durable Power of Attorney
What would happen if you and your spouse became incapacitated (or worse) and there was no one to pay the mortgage or the bills? That is why it is important to have a durable power of attorney in place.
The Advance Healthcare Directive
An advance healthcare directive gives you the legal power to have someone you select make your health care decisions in case you are not capable of doing so yourself.
Your life insurance policy, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts all require beneficiary designations. Those you designate to receive the assets in these accounts will only receive them if you execute the proper beneficiary forms!
Naming a Legal Guardian
Including provisions for the care of your children in your estate plan with all the previous documents listed is essential for peace of mind. But many parents struggle with including such provisions as naming a legal guardian for their child in their plan. Indeed, even the fictional parents in the popular television sitcom Modern Family struggled with this issue in one of their episodes:
While Jay and his new and much younger wife Gloria agonized and argued about who they should name as a legal guardian for their children, their children were left at risk that if something happened to Jay and Gloria before they decided and properly named guardians in a legal document, a judge would make the decision for them. Not ideal, under any circumstances.
Estate Planning for Parents Considerations
When naming a legal guardian for your minor children, there are many factors to consider, such as whether the guardian has similar values to yours or can provide a welcoming home environment. But the toughest decisions are often the most important. Consider the outcome if you died without having legal protections for your children in place. Your children could be subject to conflict between relatives or they could be raised by someone you would never want, or in a way you wouldn’t want. They could even temporarily be taken into the care of strangers.
Identifying and naming a legal guardian for your children in your estate plan is a difficult and important task. Don’t put off naming a legal guardian for your child. While thinking about what will happen to your child if you die is difficult even for fictional parents, your kids deserve the protection, and you deserve the peace of mind that a legal guardian can provide.
A Plan for Comprehensive Protection
Unfortunately, even if you have made the hard decisions and worked with a lawyer to name legal guardians in a Will, your kids could still be at risk, because that would not consider what happens if you become incapacitated, or if your named guardians all live far from your home, and it wouldn’t protect against anyone who may challenge your decisions. The only way to ensure your kids are raised by the people you want, in the way you want, never taken into the care of strangers (even temporarily) and that your kids would never be raised by anyone you wouldn’t want, is by creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®, which only a select few lawyers, like us, are trained to prepare.
If you are ready to take that step, start by sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can walk you step by step through creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® that not only simply names a legal guardian for your child in your Will, but also ensures your kids’ care is fully provided for, in the short-term and the long-term, and in the event of your incapacity.
Working with a trusted Personal Family Lawyer® will ensure your entire family is protected and cared for no matter what.
This article is a service of Natalya Evans, Personal Family Lawyer® at Your Family Matters. We don’t just draft documents during estate planning for parents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Contact us today to get started by scheduling an initial consultation.
This article is a service of Natalya Evans, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. If your children are younger, you might consider including our Kids Protection Plan.
You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.