Estate planning is something that every adult should think about and work on with an experienced estate planning attorney. For the parents of minor children, however, having an estate plan in place takes on heightened importance. Although no parent wants to dwell on the possibility that something could take them away from their children, the reality is that death or incapacity could do just that at any time and without warning. To help you get started with your estate plan, an Indianapolis estate planning attorney at Frank & Kraft discusses estate planning for parents with young children.
Why Is Estate Planning So Important for Parents?
Much of your energy as a parent is likely spent on creating a stable and financially secure life for your children. You will also try to pass down your wisdom, ideals, and belief system to your children while always ensuring that they are protected and loved. What happens, however, if you are not here one day or you are no longer capable of caring for your children? Without an estate plan in place the answer is less than certain.
One of the biggest concerns for the parent of minor children is that they cannot legally inherit from your estate in the event of your death. Consequently, someone must manage the assets you leave behind for them. Your estate plan is your opportunity to decide for yourself who that person will be. It is also your opportunity to create guidelines and rules to be followed regarding how that inheritance can be spent. Furthermore, if your children are minors, they will need a legal guardian if the worst were to occur and neither parent is able to care for them. Again, your estate plan offers the only formal method of telling a judge who you want to act as your child’s guardian.
Estate Planning for Older Children
The need for a comprehensive estate plan doesn’t end when your children become adults. At that point your children can inherit through intestate succession; however, you probably want specific assets to be passed down to specific beneficiaries, requiring an estate plan. Making your wishes clear also greatly diminishes the likelihood of litigation when your estate goes through the probate process following your death. Finally, your estate plan allows you to express your wishes about end of life medical treatment as well as funeral and burial planning. Without an estate plan in place to provide guidance on these issues, your adult children may be unsure of your wishes and not know how to proceed. If they don’t agree on how to proceed, a costly and divisive court battle may ensue that could cause a rift in the family for many years to come.
Estate Planning Tools and Strategies for Parents
Numerous estate planning tools and strategies are available to help ensure that your children are protected and financially secure. Starting with your Last Will and Testament, you can direct specific assets to be passed down to the beneficiaries of your choosing. You will also be able to appoint your Executor and nominate someone to be your children’s Guardian if one is ever needed. While your children are minors, a trust can be established to protect and manage the inheritance you leave behind for your children. As the Settlor of the trust, you choose the Trustee who will manage the trust assets and administer the trust using the terms you create. That same trust can be used to stagger your children’s inheritance when they become adults to avoid the problems often associated with a sizeable lump sum inheritance. Once they are adults, including an advance directive and funeral planning in your estate plan ensures both that your wishes will be honored at the end of your life and that your children will not be forced to make difficult decisions during such an emotional time period.
Contact an Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning for parents with young children, contact an experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.