It’s a challenging time to raise a family. Juggling work, childcare, school, and sports while also trying to find downtime as a family is an almost impossible task. Add to this the worry about what would happen to your children if you are in an accident or become ill, and it’s just too much to think about. This is why many young families have not done the necessary estate planning that will protect their children if something does happen to them. Don’t put it off another day. If you have children, make time to talk to us about wills and trusts.
Guardianship of Minor Children
We talked about adult guardianship in an earlier blog, but guardianship of minor children is a completely different kind of legal arrangement. When you name a guardian, you are deciding who will raise your children if something happens to you. You might have mentioned to your parents or a sibling that you would want them to take your children if the unthinkable happens, and they might be willing to do so without question, but unless you have legal documents in place, it may not be that easy.
The first step you need to take is to write a Last Will and Testament that names a guardian and backup guardians for your children—and tell them that you have named them in your will. When the will is probated upon your death, the judge will most likely honor your wishes and grant custody to your chosen guardian. If you don’t have a will, your children could end up in a foster home while the court chooses a guardian for you.
Trusts Protect Your Assets for Your Children
Children under the age of 18 cannot inherit from an estate—even their own parents’ estate. So how do you ensure that they are provided for now and in the future? The best way is to set up a trust to hold the assets with specific instructions on how the assets should be used. For example, the trust could specify that certain funds should be preserved for college tuition or that the bulk of the assets are to be distributed when the child turns 25. While your children are very young, you might include a stipend for the guardian. The person you name to be the trustee will be tasked with executing the terms of the trust. This person could be the same person who will serve as your children’s guardian, but it is often better for checks and balances to name two different people.
Talk to Our Estate Planning Team Today
Children grow up so fast—before you know it, your minor children will turn 18, and you won’t have to worry about naming a guardian. However, having a trust might become even more important. Estate plans for young families need to be reviewed every few years to make sure they still meet your needs. When you work with Littlejohn Law on an estate plan that will protect your children if disaster strikes, you can be sure we will keep in touch and help you update your plan as needed. Contact our estate planning team today.