Young families face different estate planning needs and challenges than those who have had a long life behind them. While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established!
But here’s the thing: if you have children, or anyone else you care about, you may not think you have an “estate,” but you do need estate planning, if you want to ensure your loved ones won’t end up in court and/or conflict, if anything happens to you.
Here are a few estate-planning issues that are important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:
The Care and Custody of Your Children
If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach the age of 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are only ever in the care of people you want and choose, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.
Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your child isn’t enough. You need to legally document your choice. And, naming just one person or a couple won’t cover it either. The better practice is to name at least three options, in case back-ups are needed.
Also, ensure that you have not just named legal guardians in your will, for the long-term.
If something happens to you and your child is home with a babysitter, or at school, you want to also name local people, friends or family, who would immediately be able to be called upon by authorities. And, those people need to have legal documentation on hand to step in and make immediate, short-term decisions for your littles.
I recommend a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® to ensure there are no gaps, even for a minute, in the care of the people you love most.
The Management of Your Children’s Inheritance
Remember, when you die, the assets left to your minor children will need to be managed by someone at least until they turn 18. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and appoints professionals to take over the role, which can cost your children much of — or even their entire – inheritance.
And it’s totally unnecessary. With just a bit of prior planning, you can keep your loved ones out of the court system entirely and give total control to the people you know, love and trust.
The Authority to Make Decisions for You
Finally, no matter what your age is, or how big or small your assets are, you want to put in place the documentation that appoints the people you would want making decisions for you, if you cannot make your own decisions.
Once again, the focus here is on keeping the people you love out of court during what would be a hugely stressful time for them.
Estate planning is a key part of growing up and showing up for the people you love. So, yes, you may be a young family; but once you’ve become a family, you’re not too young to plan well to make things as easy as possible for the people you love.
As your family’s trusted advisor, I will help you make the very best financial and legal decisions throughout your life, and for the beyond. Far from being a morbid task, estate planning can give your young family the peace of mind, confidence, and security you desire when it comes to the future well-being of all members of your family.
This article is a service of Beverly R. Davidek. I don’t just draft documents; I ensure that families and business owners make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for themselves and the people they love.