If you have children or stepchildren, estate planning is important to ensuring your family’s future.
You might associate estate planning with retirement, or with making end-of-life decisions that provide for your family members. It’s just as important to make a plan that provides for your family members if you’re just beginning to build your family, or if you’re planning to blend your family. Whenever your family begins to grow, it’s time to consider building or updating your estate plan.
Generally, estate planning involves preparing a series of legal documents that can ensure your wishes are fulfilled with regard to important decisions involving healthcare, finances, property, and more. Your first step is taking care of your personal planning needs: that means executing healthcare and financial powers of attorney to your spouse, or another trusted family member, who can make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. These documents enable that trusted person to make decisions for you and your assets that ultimately can benefit your children and your family.
If you have children or are planning to grow your family, choosing a guardian is very important. Choosing a guardian for your children and documenting that directive in your power of attorney and will means that the probate court will include your input when making decisions about the future of any minors in your family. In the event of your death or incapacitation, the court will also look for a trust or will document that allows a trustee or guardian to make decisions on behalf of minors. Because minors cannot own property, setting up a trust and appointing a trustee can ensure that your family has continued access to healthcare, education, and other support through asset distribution by the trustee.
For blended families, the act of appointing a guardian or trustee is even more important. Typically, if you pass away, your child’s other parent will be awarded full custody. Your blended family has its own unique circumstances, so it’s important that your wishes be accurately reflected in your estate planning. You should also consider whether you want a former spouse or partner to be involved, and whether your present spouse or partner is the best person to make decisions for your children.
If you’re growing your family or blending your family, estate planning is an important part of planning for your new future and the future of your children. Call today for expert guidance on family trusts, wills, guardianship, and more.