Young parents face different estate planning needs and challenges than those who have a long life behind them. Established parents may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, but young parents are generally more focused on what is happening to their family in the present.
Most young parents we meet with and speak to find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” they are still building and for their death and incapacity that seems so unlikely at a young age. However, if you have children (especially minor children) or anyone else you care about, you do need an estate plan if you want to ensure your loved ones will not be stuck in court and/or an inter-family conflict if something unexpected happens to you. And, unfortunately, no one can control the unexpected. That is why it is so important to plan now, before it is too late.
Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start or grow their family:
Who is Going to Take Care of Your Kids?
The age-old question! If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are only cared for by people you know and trust, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.
Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your children is not enough. You need to legally document your chosen guardian. Additionally, as we have previously discussed in other writings, naming just one person or one couple is not enough. You must name at least two to three options in case back-ups are needed.
If something happens to you and your children are home with a babysitter, at school, or a friend’s house, the authorities will have no choice but to take your children into custody, unless someone with legal authority to care for your children can quickly get to them. Therefore, you want to also name local friends or family who would immediately be able to be called upon by the authorities. Those people will need to have legal documentation on hand to step in and make immediate, short-term decisions for your children.
Our comprehensive For The Kids Plan® can help ensure there are no gaps, for even a minute, in the care of your young children.
Who is Going to Manage 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 your children turn 18. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and appoints “professionals” to take over an asset supervisory and management role, which can cost your children their entire inheritance.
This court appointment is totally unnecessary. With only 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.
Who Decides What Happens to You?
If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot communicate or are otherwise incapacitated, having a person legally appointed to make decisions for you ensures that your wishes will be carried out.
No matter your age or the size of your assets, you should put in place the proper legal documentation that appoints the people you want to make decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself.
Once again, the focus here is keeping the people you love out of Court and avoiding inter-family conflict during what would be a very 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 young parents, but you are not too young to plan well to make things as easy as possible for the people you love.
At Jacob & Greenfield, we are here to help you make the very best legal and planning decisions for you and your loved ones. Far from being a morbid task, estate planning can give you the peace of mind, confidence, and security you desire when it comes to the future well-being of all members of your family.