Much of our discussions surrounding estate planning focus on the elderly community, but good estate planning is vital throughout one’s adult life. The idea is to get some foundational documents in place early on, and update those documents throughout your life, as circumstances change.
For young adults, it’s not always the case that they are looking at leaving a massive estate fortune to their loved ones, but rather, they need to put solid plans in place to make sure their minor children are provided and cared for, in the unfortunate event where one or both parents become incapacitated or die. It’s an awfully unpleasant thing to think about happening, but the fact is that it does happen and you want the protection and care of your children to be the last thing on anyone’s mind during that time.
The easiest way to handle this is to have a valid Will or Trust in place and make sure that there are specific articles that nominate a guardian (or guardians) who will take care of your minors should something happen to you and/or you and your spouse. Without a designated guardian, you are risking putting your children in the foster care system (even if temporarily) or being ultimately placed with relatives who may be well-meaning, but who may not be prepared or equipped to care for them long-term.
Should a tragedy occur in your family, emotions will be running high and this often causes people to think and act with their emotional brain, rather than with their logical brain. Particularly when small children and their futures are involved, the family tension can run even higher than normal. By setting out your wishes in black and white, you have a greater chance of avoiding interfamily disputes.
When appointing guardians, it’s critical to consider the financial implications as well. Are you going to be leaving funds with the appointed guardians? Are you going to be placing funds in trust to be managed by a third party trustee? Are you going to be relying on your appointed guardian(s) to financially care for your minors? These are all important things to consider and to discuss with your guardian nominations.
Finally, having a solid plan in place will undoubtedly ease the emotional burden your children would face. It can cause immeasurable stress on a child if they don’t know who their primary caretaker is or if they’re caught in the crossfire of battling relatives. Having a clear and enforceable estate plan in place helps avoid these unnecessary hurdles.
If you or someone you know is in need of an estate plan, contact our office for a consultation. (251) 621-1555