Protecting Your Children
Specific Planning for Your Children in a Comprehensive Stand-Alone Plan
Have You Done All You Can to Ensure Your Children Are Taken Care of By the People You Want, In the Way You Want, If Something Happens to You?
Most parents would do anything for their children. If you have children, most of what you do everyday is probably for their benefit— whether it be at work, home, or in your community. We know your children are at the center of your world.
Understandably, it’s difficult to think about what would happen with your children if something happens to you.
Throughout your life you spend a significant amount of time planning for the benefit of your children and family— school lunches, grocery lists, selecting schools or sitters, after school activities, saving for education, birthday parties, holidays, vacations— you plan, plan, plan.
So why does some of the most important planning you can do for your children get pushed to the bottom of your “to-do” list? You know crossing your fingers and hoping your children are never left without you isn’t the best way to plan for their protection. Shouldn’t planning what will happen for your children if something unexpected happens to you be bumped up on your priority list?
If you are a parent of minor children, your estate plan must begin with ensuring your children would always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what happens. However, having a Will alone, won’t accomplish most of this. Special consideration and proper planning are required.
Without specific planning for your children, developed in a comprehensive stand-alone plan, here’s what could happen if something happens to you:
Your children could be placed into the care of strangers while the authorities figure out what to do (yes, even if you have a will in place and even if you have a living trust)
It would likely be temporary, but would you want your children in the care of strangers for even just a few hours, especially if your children knew something had just happened to you?
Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never want, like a family member who may have good intentions, but you’d never want raising your kids.
Are there people in your life you absolutely would not want raising your children?
A judge who doesn’t know you or your family will decide who will raise your children and could select the last person you would ever want.
Would you want to make sure the judge had more information about you and your family before deciding?
Your family could get into a long drawn-out custody fight or there could be a challenge to the guardians you have designated.
How do you think this would impact your grieving children?
Up to 5% of the value of your assets could be lost to court costs and other unnecessary fees in probate—the court process which can tie up your assets for years— depriving your kids of those financial resources.
If you could preserve every dollar possible for your children and avoid probate, would you?
The assets you worked hard to leave for your children could be managed by someone appointed by a judge until your children become adults.
Do you want to have a say in selecting who manages assets for the benefit of your children and what those assets can be used for?
When your kids turn age 18, they get a check for whatever assets are left, no matter how immature they might be, whether they are employed or in school, and regardless of their financial literacy.
Do you want to make sure your child is prepared to receive and handle assets in a responsible way, with additional safeguards in place to ensure those assets support your child to achieve goals consistent with your ideals?
Unscrupulous people can find out when 18-year olds are getting inheritance checks by searching the public court records.
Do you want your child’s inheritance information (including the amount) to be in the open public records?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of estate planning attorneys do not address these issues. The extent of most estate plans is naming a guardian in a Will, which alone, wouldn’t address any of these issues.
Now, for the good news: These outcomes can be avoided with proper planning. That’s why we develop a stand-alone plan to protect your children as part of every estate plan for families with children under 18 years old.
Knowing all of this, do you feel you’ve adequately prepared to protect your children if something happens to you?
If not, we’re here to help. We’ll guide you step-by-step to address these issues. We’ll also focus on preserving your values, stories, and legacy, creating clear ways to pass them along to your children.