Estate planning is a task that consistently gets pushed back on our to-do list. Reasons for delaying are the usual: lack of time, feeling as though you don’t have enough assets, not knowing where to begin, or fear of discussing your own death. Whatever your reason may be for delaying, it’s important to understand one thing: a new baby is the perfect reason to begin planning or amend an existing estate plan.
Generally, your estate plan is a set of legal documents that will outline your wishes regarding how your assets are to be distributed after your death. Your estate plan can also plan for how your assets will be managed during your life, should you become incapacitated. Your estate plan will also contain provisions regarding minor children – who will raise them, who will manage their money and more. Let’s look closer at how an estate plan can you protect the newest addition to your family.
Protecting Your Children With an Estate Plan
Your estate planning documents can dictate who will care for your children in the event you (and the child’s other biological parent) should die early or become legally incapacitated and therefore unable to care for your children. Your estate plan can designate someone you trust and who shares common values as a guardian of any minor children. This is the person who will essentially be a surrogate parent and raise the children until they reach the age of majority (currently 18 years of age). When selecting a guardian, it is important to choose people who are willing participants in your estate plan, who share similar values and parenting philosophy, and who you trust.
Distribute Your Assets on Your Terms
Some assets may have purely financial value while others have deep emotional attachments. A trust-based estate plan can speed up (and, possibly, eliminate) the probate process, but it will also save your beneficiaries from bickering, wasting time, and potentially wasting money. Probate is the court-supervised process of wrapping up a deceased person’s affairs and it’s a process that is both time consuming and costly. Using a trust to provide specific instructions on distribution of assets after your death will ensure your family avoids this your process all together. Additionally, special features in your living trust, often called lifetime trusts, allows for you to provide long-term financial stability and support for your children. These lifetime trusts can prevent a financially immature young beneficiary from using up their inheritance.
Make Your Intentions Clear
Beyond your children, creating an estate plan will inform your loved ones what final health care decisions should be made on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions. Serving as healthcare proxy is an enormous responsibility for the person you name, but you can help lessen the burden by communicating your wishes about medical decisions. One significant advantage of properly planning is that your intentions can be clearly stated so that your surviving family members do not have to guess what your desires are.
Find an Estate Planning Attorney
If you have experienced a recent major life-event – such as the arrival of a new baby, purchasing a new home, moving to a new state, or any other milestone – you should discuss your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you already have a will or trust in place, it may be time to update it to ensure it provides for your family and loved ones. To learn how estate planning can protect you, your newborn, and the rest of your family, contact us today at (954) 999-9683.
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