It is every parent’s hope that they will live long enough to see their children grow up and have families of their own. They hope they’ll always have the means and capacity to both provide for and protect their children at all costs. Though it would be great if this were the case, unfortunately, life (and death) are unpredictable. As such, parents need to safeguard their families by getting their affairs in order in advance. This is especially true if you have small children.
Heaven forbid something should happen to you and/or your significant other, will your children still be taken care of? Although pretty grim to think about, this is a question you have to ask yourself as a parent. An estate plan helps you to iron out the details of your personal and financial affairs after you’ve passed away.
Don’t have an estate plan? Here are some top reasons parents of small children should consider developing one:
1. Select the Appropriate Guardian
Who in your family do you trust to care for your children after you’re gone? If you don’t have this written down in an estate plan, your wishes may not come true. In fact, your children would likely be taken into custody by Child Protective Services until a decision is made on who the courts believe is best-equipped to care for your children.
2. Provide Financially for Your Children
Do you have money in a bank account, retirement account, or in the stock market? Perhaps you have real estate or valuables? Maybe you even have life insurance policies in place to care for your kids after you’re gone. No matter where you intended your money and assets to go after your passing, if there is no estate plan, the courts will intervene to decide who gets what. An estate plan allows you to iron out who your beneficiaries are and who will be responsible for the money left to your minor children.
3. Ease Probate Proceedings
Though laws vary depending on where you reside, your surviving relatives will have to go through a probate process to sort out your estate. If you have an iron-clad estate plan in place, however, this process may not be necessary. If, however, going to probate court is still mandatory, a probate attorney will have an easier time guiding your family through the process to sort out your estate. The documents included in your estate plan serve as a guide on how your personal and financial matters are to be handled. It can make things like determining guardianship, executorship, valuation of assets after death, and beneficiaries a lot simpler.
4. Avoid Difficult Decisions
What happens to you in life and in death should not be left up to your minor children or other relatives to decide. Should you become incapacitated, would you want your children to have to decide whether or not to leave you on life support? After you’ve passed away, do you want your grieving spouse to have to figure out the funeral arrangements? An estate plan has the details of your final wishes enclosed so that your family doesn’t have to try to make a difficult decision while going through an emotionally trying time.
5. Peace of Mind
The final reason it makes sense for parents of small children to have an estate plan is for peace of mind. As you already know, no one can predict what will happen from one day to the next. Should you fall ill, become unable to care for yourself, or pass away, you don’t want the burden of what follows to fall on your loved ones. If you have an estate plan you can find comfort in knowing that you’ve protected those that mean the most to you.
You take precautions to protect your kids from strangers, crime and violence, the internet, and a plethora of other circumstances and threats, so why not protect them from unforeseen events like your passing? In these uncertain times especially, it is imperative for parents of small children to make sure that their personal and financial affairs are in order. If you haven’t taken the time to plan your estate, work with an attorney to begin developing an iron-clad plan that ensures your kids are well taken care of in your absence.