Why Should We Create an Estate Plan for Our Children?
As parents, we want what is best for our children. Creating an estate plan allows a parent to develop a personalized plan to ensure that a parent or parents can provide both financially and relationally for their children. A personalized estate plan can also provide a structured plan and guidance to the person or people that you select to care for your children after you pass. You can select a guardian to care for your children, provide instruction for their care, and provide the financial tools to the guardian to give the kind of care you wish to see given to your children in your absence.
What Should We Do to Properly Plan for Our Children?
In order to properly plan for your children, I recommend that you consult with an attorney to guide you in creating your personalized estate plan. The estate plan may contain any of the combination of the following documents to provide for the financial and relational well-being of your children and loved ones: a Will, a Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney and Trust Documents. You may also need to consider purchasing life insurance.
I Can Get a Free Form Online. Why Do I Need an Attorney?
I am a fan of DIY, but not when it come making sure your children will be taken care of in your absence. The online forms may omit key things in your planning, may not be up to date, or compliant with Washington law. Further, while each family has different circumstances and needs, an online form is not customized for each person, and likely will not take into consideration tax consequences or planning with blended families. Your children may not be safeguarded the way you intend, and unfortunately they won’t find out until it’s too late. An experienced attorney will guide you to make sure your customized plan for your family is in place.
When Should We Do Our Estate Planning?
I recommend that you consult with an attorney and create your personalized estate plan as soon as possible. As parents we scrutinize every decision we make regarding our children. What school? Which car seat? Which babysitter? Organic or is non- organic ok? With so many immediate concerns, consulting with an attorney and creating a personalized estate plan can get thrown on the back burner. However, creating a personalized estate plan should not be neglected. A personalized estate plan ultimately ensures that should unexpected events occur to render you incapacitated or cause you to pass away, that your children and loved ones will still have the benefit of your financial and personal care plan for them.
What Are Some Specific Estate Planning Considerations for Minor Children?
When creating a personalized estate plan for a parent or parents with minor children, we consider:
Naming a guardian or guardians to provide care to the minor children;
Setting up trust for the children with rules and guidance for the trustee on how the money is to be spent for education, care and maintenance and activities (sports, hobbies etc.);
If any of the children have special medical or developmental needs, we recommend creating a Special Needs Trust to provide the financial support necessary for that child;
We discuss and counsel clients on selecting an Agent for you Durable Power of Attorney;
We discuss and counsel client on your Health Care Directive so your wishes are clear; and
Life Insurance Trust if you have life insurance
Should We Have a Will or Trust?
Everyone needs a Will, but only some people need a Trust. With a Will you can leave property to your children and only in a Will can you name a guardian for your children. A Will is also necessary to capture any property that did not make it into the Trust. There are a variety of Trusts with different purposes. Generally speaking, if you do not want your children (minor or adult!) or the guardian of your minor children to have access to all funds at once, with a Trust you can dictate when and under what circumstances funds should be distributed to your children over time. If you are considering a Trust in planning for your family, it is best to consult with an attorney. During the planning process, we will discuss your goals so that a Trust can be customized to achieve your planning and financial objectives.
We Have Our Wills, Why Do We Need a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person or persons with authority to make financial or healthcare decision for you should you become incapacitated. This person will also be responsible for making decision on healthcare for your minor children in the event that a parent or other legal representative is not readily available, or in the event that a parent or guardian becomes disabled or incapacitated. We suggest that a separate person be chosen for healthcare and financial decisions.