3 Estate Planning Documents You Need If You Have Kids Under 18

Life gets busy, job, kids, house, you have a million things on your mind. Did you remember to plan for your family’s the future? With our busy lives, planning for our family’s future isn’t always a top priority. The truth is, without a plan you’re leaving your kids vulnerable if something happens to you and you’re not able to care for them. How will they be cared for financially? Who will raise them if you can’t? The right Estate Plan answers these and other important questions. If you’re ready to get started, take a look at the documents you need to have in place to help you plan.

You need a Will or a Trust.

Through a Will you can name guardians for your kids and leave instructions for what you want to pass to your kids when you die. A Will, however, might not be the best planning tool for you if your kids are under 18, because kids under 18 can’t inherit property. A Will is also not the right tool if you want to plan for what happens to your kids if you become incapacitated and unable to care for them. A Trust can help with both. When you draft a Trust, you leave instructions for what happens to your things if you’re incapacitated OR if you pass, AND who will administer your things in either of those circumstances.  Your kids can reap the benefits of whatever you leave them because you’ve named an adult to administer what you left them according to your instructions. A Will only says who gets what. A Trust says who gets what, when they get it, and who administers it for them until they get it.

Whether a Will or Trust is right for you is a decision that will depend on your estate planning goals and your individual family situation. You should sit down with an attorney to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both. Read more about Wills here:  Is a Will the right way? and more about Trusts here: 5 thinks you need to know about Revocable Living Trusts..

You need to nominate a guardian.

Guardianship nomination can be a frustrating task for a lot of families. Why? Well picking a guardian for your kids means thinking of a future where you’re not going to be there for your kids and someone else is raising them. This decision, however, is extremely important and you shouldn’t leave it up to chance. If you don’t nominate a guardian for your kids, in your Will and/or in a Guardianship Nomination form, the court picks on your behalf. Leaving such an important decision to the court is something most parents want to avoid. Having trouble coming up with a good guardianship candidate? Check out this article for some help: 5 things to think about when you’re picking a guardian for your kids.

You need a Designation of Health Care Surrogate for Minors.

A Designation of Health Care Surrogate for Minors lets you pick someone to make medical decisions for your kids when you can’t. When is this helpful? The obvious answer is if you’re incapacitated and can’t make the decisions yourself. But this document comes in handy in another common scenario. Let’s say you’re on vacation with your spouse and your parents, siblings, or friends, are taking care of your kids. Something happens and your kids must be taken to the hospital. What if they can’t reach you? That’s where the Designation of Health Care Surrogate for Minors comes in. A hospital might hesitate to treat your children without first speaking to you, their legal guardian. This document lets the hospital know  its ok for them to rely on whoever you’ve named to make these time sensitive medical decisions.

Concluding thoughts.

Planning for your kid’s future without you is a task not many people enjoy. But knowing that if something happens to you there’s a plan in place for who will take care of your kids and how they will be cared for gives you peace of mind. If you’re ready to take the next step in planning for your family’s future, visit www.igslegal.com or call 407-986-1176 to schedule a free 15-minute call and find out if I’m the right attorney too help you.

This article is not intended as legal advice please contact an attorney before making any decisions regarding your estate plan.


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