Adults create estate plans for many different personal reasons. Some people acquire property that they want to gift to a specific person when they die. Other people have health issues that influence their wishes. For many adults, becoming a parent is the experience that motivates them to put together an estate plan.
Children are entirely dependent on the adults in their lives for everything from basic nutrition and shelter to guidance and physical protection. Parents generally feel a profound sense of obligation and duty to their children and that may inspire them to draft an estate plan for the protection of their dependents. The following are some of the ways that an estate plan can potentially protect the interests of children in a family.
A plan can provide financial support
When someone dies without an estate plan or will, intestate succession laws will typically grant their spouse and children most of their resources. However, young children and even teenagers are usually not in a good position to inherit assets. Their other parent or guardian will be the party to control those resources. An estate plan that includes a trust can preserve assets until children become adults and limit what guardians use resources for after parents die.
A plan can provide day-to-day support
Perhaps the most important decision that someone will make when estate planning as a parent is the selection of the right guardian to take over their parental responsibilities. The guardian should be young enough to meet the children’s needs now and until they turn 18 but also responsible enough to manage their resources and day-to-day lives. Choosing a specific guardian for the children helps ensure that they are with someone who can properly meet their needs instead of with whoever volunteers or the state appoints to the position.
A plan can eliminate decision-making pressure
There are scenarios in which family members might turn to the younger members of a family for guidance regarding someone’s funeral services or medical preferences, which can put a lot of pressure on young adults. An estate plan that includes an advanced directive describing someone’s medical wishes and a will with clear funeral arrangements can both help take the pressure off of family members during what will inevitably be a very difficult time after someone dies.
Parents who want to protect their children from whatever life may bring often find that estate planning is a simple and effective means of facilitating this broader aim. As such, drafting or updating estate planning paperwork is a smart decision for new and expectant parents who want what is best for their children.