Estate plans should always be tailored to meet your specific needs. If you have children, your estate plan should include some additional components specific to your children and their future care. Here are 5 things to include in your estate plan if you have children.
A Guardian for Your Children
Most parents take comfort in knowing that if something happens to one of them, the other will still be there to care for the children. Although rare, something could happen to both parents. In that case, who will take custody of your children? If you do not designate a specific guardian for your children in your estate plan and your children are minors, it will be up to the courts to make the decision. This is not ideal given that a judge does not know your children or your family. No one knows better than you, who is best suited to care for your children if you are both gone, so make sure your wishes are known!
An Executor for Your Estate
Another important thing to include in your estate plan if you have children is an executor for your estate. Your children will not be of legal age to manage your finances and make decisions on your assets, debts, and other estate matters. It is therefore important that you select someone that you know and trust to manage these responsibilities. It can be, but does not need to be, the same person as your children’s guardian.
Distribution of Assets
Whether you have a surviving spouse or not, you will want to include instructions for the distribution of your assets. This is especially important if you have an unusual family structure such as children from previous marriages, step-children, grandchildren, etc. Assets can be distributed to your spouse, children, or any combination thereof. In cases where both parents become deceased, you will want your assets to be available for the care and financial support of your young children. Based on their ages, the distribution to each individual child can certainly vary as well.
Managing Children’s Inheritance
If you distribute assets to your children and they are not of legal age, an adult must be assigned to manage those assets for your children until they turn 18 years of age. If you do not include this in your estate plan, a judge will make the decision on who to assign this role. In that case, it will likely be an independent third party who must be paid for their services. Thus, it is better that you select a trusted friend or family member who will not charge a fee.
Other Things to Include in Your Estate Plan if You Have Children
The above are just a few things to include in your estate plan if you have children. In many cases, you may need additional provisions to properly carry out your wishes and manage your estate. It is always important to discuss your options with an estate planning attorney to determine the best way to manage your estate and provide for your children. Schedule a consultation with our team to get started!