We understand that preparing an estate plan is not always the most urgent priority for young families. Buying your first home, sleepless nights with a newborn, coordinating everyone’s packed schedules while trying to maintain your family’s sanity — we know that your main concern is most likely planning for your family’s future, paying your mortgage, and enjoying everyday life. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when you will need the protection of an estate plan. Estate planning is especially critical for young families; not so much because there is a significant risk of death or disability, but because the consequences of those unlikely events can be particularly devastating for young families who have not made decisions beforehand.
And although estate planning probably falls pretty low on the list of things to do, we’ve seen far too many situations that could have been avoided. Things to consider about estate planning:
- Guardianship of minors: If parents do not choose a guardian for minor children, who will? Ensuring that your children are immediately cared for by someone you choose and trust is the primary consideration for any parent. As much as you can, you want to safeguard against the possibility that your children may end up with someone you don’t approve of. Also, you may not have considered what might happen if your first choice for guardian is not available or the potential family contention as grandparents and aunts and uncles all feel equally capable of caring for your children. Estate planning gives you the assurance of knowing that you have chosen the best possible person and environment for your children.
- Providing for minor children: You should outline not only how money is distributed for the care of your children and under what circumstances, but also who can be entrusted to manage your child’s inheritance while they are young. Putting those details into place can help protect your assets so that they last long enough to take care of your children until adulthood.
- Leaving assets to your children through probate: If you do not have an estate plan in place, there is a good chance that your estate will go through the probate process, which is completely public. This means that all of your estate information will be readily available for anyone to access, including your children’s names, addresses, ages, how much they will be receiving, and when.
- Special needs children: In cases where a special needs child is receiving government benefits, an inheritance from parents (if not properly planned and implemented) may affect any current assistance. An estate plan can easily accommodate these needs and considerations, for the best interest of the child.
- Default Estate Planning: If you never sign a single estate planning document, the State of Michigan implements an estate plan for you. There are laws that outline what happens to your estate if you don’t have a will or trust, and you may not like the options.
We know that thinking about estate planning can be overwhelming, especially when you’re young and don’t feel like you have many assets to your name. However, estate planning is not just about bank accounts and property titles. It’s about making choices that affect our families and children positively. Do you know any young families who may benefit from additional information on this topic? Wright Beamer is hosting an event on this very topic, on April 14, 2015. For more information, please reply to this email or contact Lauren Noffsinger at (248) 893-1413.