Having children is the great estate planning motivator, we all do for our kids what we don’t do for ourselves. We know that we need an estate plan, but it’s often not until our children come along that we pull ourselves together and put an estate plan in place.
There are special considerations to your planning when you have children, especially minor children. We’ve outlines those considerations below. But, if you have further questions, we welcome your telephone call. We enjoy helping families like yours.
- Be sure to appoint guardians for your minor children in your will. If you don’t the court will decide who will raise your children. It may not be who you would want.
- Because your will is only effective when you’ve died, you need to appoint stand by (i.e. temporary) guardians to care for your children if you are alive but disabled. This is typically done in a child care power of attorney.
- There is one other small, but important, gap to fill in. If there’s an emergency (i.e. you’re in a car crash) and your guardians can’t immediately get to your children, you need to name “first responders” who will stay with your children until the guardians arrive.
First responders are trusted neighbors and friends who can get to your children within 15 minutes. This avoids your children being taken into foster care.
- No matter how old your children, give their inheritance in a lifetime trust. The trust assets will be available for their health, education, and maintenance, but have asset protection. This means that the assets while in trust cannot be taken in divorce, bankruptcy, business failure, medical crisis, or other lawsuit.
- Write love letters or poems; make a video, scrapbook, or photo album, and provide a sentimental gift to go to each child. These are the most treasured of inheritances, truly.
- Be sure that you are in photos with your child; don’t always be the invisible parent behind the camera.
- Update your estate plan as life unfolds (every 3 to 5 years) or if you have a new child or some other life changing event.
If you have questions about how having children affects your estate plan, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.