As parents, we want to protect and support our young children. If I see my 2-year-old Eloise in a situation where something could cause her harm, I jump into action. That’s what an estate plan can do — it can be used to protect and support your children. It’s sad to think that perhaps one day, we won’t be here for our kids or we may be unable to help them. But the truth is we don’t have control over everything. The best we can do is plan ahead by doing an estate plan.
How to Plan for Your Children in Your Estate Plan
- Choose a Guardian for Your Children in Your Estate Plan
Many parents think that if something does happen to them, the other parent will still be there to care for their children. But what happens if both parents pass away at the same time? It might be rare, but it does happen. If you haven’t named a guardian, the courts would decide what happens to your minor children. In that case, it’s possible that what you wanted for your children won’t happen. You know better than anyone else who would be the best guardian for your children.
- Distribution of Assets
You’ll want to document how you want your assets to be distributed. Whether you have a surviving spouse or not, it’s important to make sure your assets go to the people you want. If both parents pass away, you’ll want your assets to be available to take care of your children.
You can choose to do a will or a trust. A will directs who will receive your property when you pass away, appoints a legal representative (“executor”) to carry out your wishes, and names a guardian for your children. A living trust is a legal arrangement through which a trustee (a person or an institution like a bank or law firm) holds legal title to property for the benefit of another person (a beneficiary).
- Manage Your Children’s Inheritance
With a trust, the trustee can oversee the distribution of your assets over time, so as your minor child ages they’d receive money based on their needs and circumstances. We typically recommend a trust for parents with young children since a trust:
-Doesn’t go through probate like a will, so it saves time and money. When a will goes through probate, those assets are locked up for typically over a year. What if your children require that money for day-to-day needs?
-Allows you to plan for incapacity. If you become unable to manage your own finances, the trustee can manage the assets in the trust for you until you get better.
As a child guardianship attorney in Massachusetts, we focus on addressing these important issues. We have the expertise to help you plan for the well-being and care of the children you love. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.299.6976 to set up a free, confidential consultation.