Young families face different estate planning challenges than those who have had a long life behind them. While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families are more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established!
But here’s the thing … if you have children, or anyone else you care about, you may not have an “estate”, but you do need estate planning, if you want to ensure your loved ones won’t be stuck in Court and/or conflict, if anything happens to you.
Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:
The Care and Custody of Your Children
If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are in the care of people you want, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.
Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your child isn’t enough. You need to legally document your choice. And, naming just one person or a couple won’t cover it either.
If something happens to you and your child is home with a babysitter, or at school, you want to also name local people, friends or family, who are legally documented and, therefore, able to speak with authorities and make immediate, short-term decisions for your kids.
The Management of Your Children’s Inheritance
Remember, when you die, the assets left to your minor children will need to be managed by someone at least until they turn eighteen. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and appoints “professionals” to take over the role, which can cost your children their entire inheritance.
And, it’s totally unnecessary. With just a bit of prior planning, you can keep your loved ones out of the Court system entirely and give total control to the people you know, love and trust.
The Authority to Make Decisions for You
Finally, no matter what your age is, or how big or small your assets are, you want to put in place the documentation that appoints the people you would want making decisions for you, if you cannot make your own decisions.
Once again, the focus here is on keeping the people you love out of Court during what would be a hugely stressful time for them.
Estate planning is a key part of growing up, and showing up for the people you love. So, yes, you may be a young family, but once you’ve become a family, you’re not too young to plan well to make things as easy as possible for the people you love.