Does your estate plan cover your children in case something happens to you?
As an estate planning attorney, I often work with senior couples who need help drafting Wills and Trusts. I believe that the reason that most of my clients are senior couples is because younger couples with small children feel that they don’t need estate planning quite yet. Because I am also a young father with small children, I can understand this view.
A typical young parent or couple may have very few material assets. They may only own a used car. Perhaps they have some equity in a new home, or perhaps they are renting. It is likely that young couples or parents are digging themselves out from under substantial student loans, or even working two jobs to make ends meet. At this stage in a young parent’s life it seems that there are not enough assets to protect. If this is true, why spend the money and time to create an estate plan?
My recent work experiences have shown me that this view couldn’t be more wrong. Sure young families may not have extensive material assets to protect. However, young parents have something much more valuable to protect: their children. Although it may be true that a young parent doesn’t have much to protect in terms of monetary wealth, a young parent has the responsibility to protect their children, no matter what happens.
A recent experience brought this close to home. A client of ours had some work done at our office for a parent with young children who lost a battle with cancer. Fortunately the parent had some time after the doctors broke the news to wrap up financial issues and to be sure that the children have the best future possible given the circumstances. The family was able to participate in our Kids Protection Planning program and create a plan for the children including selection of guardians. Interestingly, the excuses most young parents make for not creating a plan that have to do with lack of material assets were not on the mind of the family. Time and again the family brought up the fate of the most important assets: the children.
Although the situation was devastating, this parent had the good fortune of being forewarned that they only had a short time left. It goes without saying that too many people don’t get any warning that something is about to happen. As I worked with the family I couldn’t help but think about my own kids. I asked myself whether I was prepared. What would happen to my three young boys if something were to happen to my wife and me?
There are two take-away lessons from this experience. The fist is that children are the most important assets that any family can have no matter the financial situation. The second is that young families cannot afford to go without an estate plan. A plan for a young parent or couple can be molded and tailored to their specific situation. Whatever the estate plan looks like for a young family, it should always include nomination of guardians so that our most important assets are always protected.
– For more information regarding Kids Protection Planning, visit http://mollerlawgroup.kidsprotectionplan.com/.
-Jonathan E. Shaw, Esq.
* This is not considered legal advice, and the legal system constantly changes. If you want current and accurate legal advice, please contact our office and arrange to speak with an attorney. 719-687-2328