As a parent, there are many things to worry about for your children’s sake, most of which will never come true. You are concerned about the food they eat, the friends they play with, strangers that they might meet, drugs, alcohol, grades, college and who they might marry. As their parent, it is your full-time job to watch over them, to protect them and to point them in the right direction. You intend to be there for them, regardless of what challenges they might face.
But what if you can’t be there? What plans do you have in place to deal with that possibility?
The term “estate planning” is often used to describe a person’s will and how they want their assets to pass at death. Proper estate planning though goes much further than telling the world who gets your lawn mower, TV and sofa. Estate planning for parents with minor children should recognize that the children’s needs come first, and all plans should be drafted to protect the children rather than to simply pass assets. For example:
If you die without a Will-
You leave your children to fend for themselves;
You leave your children without any moral guidance;
You leave your children not knowing who they can trust;
You leave your children without financial security;
You leave your children without any final words from you;
You leave your children as orphans.
If both parents are killed, other relatives may fight for custody of your children. You can decide though, who should raise them, but you have to formalize that in your estate plan. If you don’t, the Court will decide who will raise them and it might be a foster home. Your choice.
You can decide who manages their inheritance until they are old enough and mature enough to receive it. If you don’t formalize your decision, the Court will decide who manages the inheritance and the children will receive their entire share by age 19, whether they are mature or not. Your choice.
You can express your hopes and dreams for them in your estate plan and leave them with parting words that they will later cherish. If you don’t, they will only remember you as being there one day and gone the next. Those words must be formalized in your estate plan though. Your choice.
You don’t have any choice whether to leave your children if you die, but you do have a choice as to how you leave them. No one else can take your place as their parent, but someone else can step in and, with your help, give your children a better chance at growing up without lasting damage. You can do it all through your estate plan, but it must be formalized, in writing. It is your choice.
For information on estate planning for parents with minor children, contact Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC today.
© William G. Nolan, Nolan Elder Law, LLC 205/390-0101. www.ElderLawAlabama.com