If You Have Minor Children, You Must Have an Estate Plan
It's heartbreaking, but it does happen: both parents die unexpectedly, and there's no will, and no one has been named a guardian. Who decides who will raise your children?
Being a good parent means being responsible for the well-being of every member of the family. That includes planning for catastrophe. In a best case scenario, you all live happily ever after. But in the event that unpleasant things happen, you will have made a plan for who will raise your children, how your assets will be distributed and your family will have less stress as they move through the process of adjustment.
The more complicated your life, the more involved your planning needs to be.
A caring.com survey found that just 42% of adults currently have estate planning documents, including a will or living trust. For those with children under 18 living at home, that number is an astonishing 36% with an end-of-life plan in place.
Parents do their best to keep their children from harm. However, as the numbers show, many don't do the same when it comes to keeping them safe if the parents should die. At a minimum, a parent should have a will that designates guardians for minor children in the event something happens to both parents. Without a will, there will be a messy situation for the individual appointed by the court.
If there's life insurance involved with a decent amount of money, even your no-good, irresponsible younger brother will gladly offer to take the kids.
It's convenient to delay estate planning when you're unsure who to name as guardian for the kids and, if we don't talk about dying, maybe it won't happen!
Unfortunately, no one gets out of this life alive, so the smart move is to make these important plans now. Life can be complex, and it gets even more complicated when you throw in blended families. That can make the decision as to who will rear your minor children a lot tougher.
A wise choice for the guardian may be an adult brother or sister, a close cousin or your best friend who lives nearby. However, these may not be options in every case. Grandparents might seem like a good selection, but because of their age they may be too old to rear young children. However, if they're fairly young, don't rule them out. Speak with those members of your family and your friends about the possibility of caring for your kids.
If nothing unexpected happens, no one will know if you do not do any estate planning. But if you live long enough, you learn that life sends curveballs all the time. Sit down with an estate planning attorney today, so that your loved ones will know you cared enough to plan with them in mind.
Reference: CBS Boston (August 24, 2017) “Catastrophe Planning: Where There's A Will There's A Way!”