As a parent, you want to make sure your children are provided for no matter what; at Geyer & Associates, “child-proofing” your estate plan is often a big part of our work with clients who are in their 20s and 30s.
Particularly for parents, estate planning is about a lot more than money. That’s because, as estateplanning.com emphasizes, “You need to name someone to raise your child in the event both parents die before the child becomes an adult.” While the likelihood of that happening is slim, the authors concede, the consequences of not naming a guardian are great.
As Indiana estate planning attorneys, we know that a solid planning needs to address more than just the “who” (naming a guardian), but also the “how” (how do you want your children raised?)
Estateplanning.com suggests important questions to ask yourself – and the prospective guardians:
- Are the people you selected willing to serve?
- Do they have the time and energy?
- If they are older (grandparents, for instance), are they healthy enough to raise children?
- How far away do they live?
- Are their values and religious beliefs similar to your own?
- How comfortable are your children with those individuals now?
- What about economics? Do those prospective guardians need to work full-time to support themselves?
Estateplanning.com calls attention to a common misunderstanding – parents think that if they’ve named a guardian, that person will automatically be able to use the inheritance to take care of the children. But that’s not what happens (absent special advance planning) – the court, not the guardian, will control the assets until the child reaches majority (18 in most states) and then the child comes into the entire inheritance at once.
Here at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, we believe there’s another very important discussion that needs to take place – What happens if just one parent dies, leaving the survivor to bring up the children? You may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow the surviving spouse to devote more attention to the children, without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide for special counseling and resources for a spouse who lacks the experience to handle financial and legal matters.
Does your estate plan need further child-proofing?
– by Corinna of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates