Young families face different estate planning needs and challenges than their more established counterparts. While established families may be concerned with what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And they even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” they haven’t yet developed!
Young couples tend to think that they don’t really need to start worrying about estate planning until they reach retirement. They may think it is better to focus on building a life than planning what will happen when that life ends. But even young families can – and do – benefit from estate planning, regardless of their net worth. Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:
The Care and Custody of Your Children. If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To prevent avoid them from becoming wards of the state and placed in foster care, you will want to name both temporary and long-term guardians. Identify a willing and appropriate guardian for your children and document your choice. You’ll also want to document backups in the event your first choice is unable to perform. This will provide you with the peace of mind that comes from, knowing your children will be well-taken care by the people you want if anything should happen to you.
The Management of Your Children’s Property. Don’t forget that if you die, the property left to your minor children will need to be managed by someone – at least until they turn eighteen. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and takes over the role, which results in unnecessary expenses and less control.
The Distribution of Your Belongings and Asset. As with your children’s property, your estate plan should include the details on how you want your property will be managed. Again, if your wishes are not expressed, the court may step in to handle things. That means a loss of control, extra expense, and an impersonal experience for your loved ones.
The Management of Your Estate. Again, if you do not name a personal representative who will manage your estate, the court will appoint one. This can result in delays, extra fees and costs, and, in the end, there is no guarantee the representative will act in accordance with your wishes.
The Authority to Make Decisions for You. You should also consider giving powers of attorney to someone in the event you are unable to make sound personal financial or health care decisions for yourself. Not doing so makes things harder on your family both financially and emotionally. Notice a theme here?
Young families face different challenges than established families do, but all families share a concern about their children’s futures. You don’t need a large estate to begin estate planning, but you should be prepared to protect your family and your assets should you die or become incapacitated. Far from being a morbid task, estate planning actually gives young families peace of mind, confidence, and security when it comes to the future well-being of all members of the family.
That’s why at my firm, we don’t just draft documents. We also help our clients make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for themselves and the people they love. And that’s the real power of estate planning.
Dedicated to empowering your family, enhancing your wealth and establishing your legacy,