Does your back to school plan include estate planning? It should.
Each year, as the kids head back to school, I remind my clients about the importance of establishing an estate plan that includes the designation of a legal guardian for their minor children. Parents love imagining the future with their children, the graduation from middle school to high school, high school to university and …you know the sequence of events! But a subject most parents don’t like to consider is what would happen if both parents were to die suddenly or become incapacitated while the kids are still minors.
Yes, it is rare that both parents die simultaneously, but it does happen more often than you would think. And the whole idea of having a will and an estate plan is to cover all possibilities that would have an adverse effect on your family.
Points To Consider About Potential Guardian Appointee
Appointing a guardian is a subject you will want to discuss with your family as well as the potential appointee. Many people assume family members will step in and take care of their children. However, there are a multitude of factors to consider. Many people have difficult family relationships. And often families are spread out across the country, even the world.
You’ll want to take into consideration where the potential guardian lives as well as political, religious and moral beliefs. You might also want to consider the person(s) parenting skills.
Age is another consideration. Someone could be too old or too young. If the children are toddlers and the grandparents or other candidate is in their 60’s or 70’s, it may not be the greatest fit. If they are on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll want to take into account marital status. If they are married, do they have children, will they have children, how will your children fit into the new family life. With a younger guardian, they may be too involved in their career or education to tend to the real needs of your children.
The financial situation of the appointee is also something to take into consideration. Will the guardian have to quit his/her job or take on a second job to raise your children? Is the person you’re considering good with money? Do they pay their bills on time, do they have a stable job?
Plan For The Worst While Expecting The Best
I know this is a lot to consider, but it is an important part of planning for the worst-case scenario. The worst-case, as I mentioned earlier is rare. The best-case scenario is that your lives will continue on beautifully, your children will grow up and go through all the anticipated life experiences with the usual ups and downs. When your children reach adulthood, you can then revisit your estate plan and make the appropriate changes.
You can then address the protection and distribution of your assets after your death, as well as your personal care as you age. This eliminates the need for your children to be burdened with your care. You can explain to them the details and know that you have always had their best interests at heart from the moment they arrived in your life.