Most people would rather clean out the gutters than plan for their family’s life after they die, especially if they’ve just added a new member to the family. But when a new baby has arrived, is exactly the time when you need to make sure that a comprehensive estate plan is in place.
SF Gate’s recent article, “Congrats on Your New Baby! Now It’s Time for an Estate Plan,” says that an estate plan is correctly thought of as a series of legal documents created with a qualified estate planning attorney that sets out your wishes for the disposition of your assets and the responsibility for your dependents if they are minors when you die. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should have a professionally-drafted estate plan.
For your children. Many experts say that these are the most important considerations. There are two: (1) who do you want to care for your minor children in the event you and your spouse die unexpectedly, and (2) when do you want your children to receive complete and unsupervised control of their inheritance.
If you want you children to receive complete control of their inheritance at age 18, then you don't need to set up a trust for your children. However, if you'd like to delay when your children receive their inheritance, you can set up a trust for your children in your Will and select the age or ages when your children receive their control of their inheritance.
You can designate a single individual or family member to manage your children’s financial affairs. If you set up a trust in your Will, this person is known as a Trustee, and if you don't set up a trust, this person is known as a Guardian of the Property. You can also add another person or family member to care for your children (Guardian of the Person). The other option is to have one person or family member fill both roles.
For loved ones. Your estate plan will direct your loved ones how to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. This is a big responsibility for the person who is chosen, so be sure to clearly state your intentions in a Advance Directive for Healthcare.
For your things. We all have prized possessions that have little actual market value but would have large emotional implications were you to pass away. A proper estate plan created by an experienced estate planning lawyer will speed up, or may even eliminate, the probate process. This will save your heirs and loved ones time, money, and added stress and grief. If you have specific instructions for the disposition of your prized possessions and assets, detail the reasons in your estate plan to avoid misunderstandings or hard feelings among your heirs.
Yes, it may feel sad to think about death when you are holding a newborn or celebrating another happy life event. However, these are necessary tools to protect those you love. Imagine how comforted your loved ones will be, knowing that you were thinking about them and caring for them. An experienced estate planning attorney will create the legal documents that you need, guide you through the decision-making process and make sure that your wishes are clear and your family is taken care of.
Reference: SF Gate (December 22, 2016) “Congrats on Your New Baby! Now It’s Time for an Estate Plan”