Many young families with small children do not have estate planning at the top of their list. However, it really should be a top priority, according to The Daily Sentinel’s in “What is missing from your estate plan?”
One important estate planning document that should be considered is a last will and testament. It is the document which parents need to legally nominate guardians to rear their children, if orphaned. While some people name one person to rear the children and handle the money, it’s a good idea to separate the two roles.
Without these instructions in a will, those left behind can have very different ideas about where the children should live and who should care for them. If the two parents’ families have very strong opinions, suddenly both families have hard choices to make about what will happen to the children.
No parent wants to leave a legacy of court battles and family division. However, that’s what is likely to happen without a will.
There are other issues that estate plans address while you are alive. It is also necessary to plan for incapacity. A health care proxy, also known as an “advanced directive,” is important because it helps pre-answer questions regarding what treatment and care you would want if unable to speak for yourself. Do you want to be kept alive by artificial means? You do not want your loved ones making this decision during a time of great emotional stress, so this is an important document to have in your estate plan. It should include instructions to deal with all other medical decisions other than end of life. Without it, if you are seriously ill and unable to share your opinions about your care, your family and your medical providers are placed in a difficult position. In contrast, those who care enough about their family use this document to designate an agent and ensure that their wishes are made legally binding.
The big question everyone must face is “When should I start working on my estate plan?” If the answer is “Later,” then the real answer is “No time soon.” For young parents, that puts your minor children in a bad position, where a court may make the decision about who will rear them and how their lives will go on after you are gone.
An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, including families with young children.
Resource: The Daily Sentinel (Aug. 12, 2018) “What is missing from your estate plan?”