Parents with minor children often put off estate planning. Who has time to worry about death and taxes when all spare moments are consumed with changing diapers, helping with homework, and being a soccer mom or dad? Disability, Death, and Taxes are not on the top of the bucket list for parents of young kids. Contemplating estate planning is inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable for the healthy parent of minor children, but it is absolutely necessary. The reality is that in life, disability and death are unpredictable, and we have to plan accordingly. Estate planning is just as necessary for the young parent/s as it is for the 95-year-old retiree with numerous assets to their name. Estate planning is often misconstrued as the act of giving away your fortune when you pass. But more important than wealth distribution is the peace of mind that comes when an estate plan is in place.
5 Reasons why it is SO important for parents of minors to have an estate plan in place:
- A good estate plan will designate a caregiver for the minor children. Parents may discuss with each other and often with their loved ones who should care for their children in the event of an untimely death, or serious disability but most never put their decision in writing. An estate plan will reduce the confusion and disagreements that frequently arise. Avoid exposing your family and children to this by having a good estate plan in place.
- A good estate plan will provide a plan for property management until the children are of age. Parents can designate someone to manage any assets left to minor children in their estate plan. Without a good estate plan, the court steps in and appoints a guardian to manage property. Even though the court is required to consider the best interests of the children, the decisions may not even be close to what you would choose. Also, the cost of court administration will deplete the assets more quickly than if an estate plan is in place.
- Designating how and to whom personal possessions should be distributed is easy with a simple estate plan. Without an estate plan in place, the disposition of property is made according to state laws attempting to mirror the intent of the average person. This can lead to uncertainty, odd outcomes, and difficult situations.
- Estate plans allow parents to designate who will be responsible for the management of the estate. When an individual passes away, there are a number of issues that have to be handled: bank account closures, administration of the estate, debt repayment, etc. When a personal representative is not designated, the court must appoint one. This can also lead to unnecessary costs and delays. Having a plan in place will provide children with a sense of continuity and security instead of chaos and uncertainty.
- Parents designate who should make their financial and health-related decisions if they are unable to do so on their own. Estate planning isn’t always about what to do when someone dies. Sometimes it is necessary to name a successor when a parent becomes incapacitated or unable to act on their own accord. Some refer to this element as “disability planning” because it includes the designation of an individual to make those decisions on your behalf should the need arise. Minor children should not be faced with uncertainty that could easily be avoided with good planning.
Estate planning is not just for wealthy seniors to divide and distribute their massive estate. The truth is that estate planning is for everyone and is especially important for families with young children. A good estate plan will evolve as you go through life. For young families, what happens to your children is usually more important than what happens to your stuff. An estate plan will ensure that the important decisions you make for your children and property will be clear, legal, and in writing.
Do you have an estate plan in place? If not, we would love the opportunity to help you. Please call to get in touch with one of the experienced estate planning attorneys at Dolen, Tucker, Tierney & Abraham.