One of the most common estate planning scenarios I come across is helping young parents provide for the ongoing care of their minor children if the unthinkable should happen to them and their spouse (or another parent). This is a scary and serious discussion for parents that is never easy to have however, it is critically important to ensure that your children are not only are being properly cared for in the event of your untimely death but that your assets are protected and properly set aside for their ongoing financial support. This usually requires setting up some sort of Trust instrument. Fortunately, there are several options to choose from that are easy to put together and appropriately suited for almost any scenario.

Choosing a Custodian or Guardian

Most parents realize the first important decision to make when planning for their minor children is to choose an appropriate Guardian in the event that both parents pass away before one or more of their children reach the age of 18. Often that choice is an easy one – a trusted relative (parents or siblings) or friend often comes to mind. Sometimes, however the decision is more difficult. Parents may disagree on who the most suitable choice is and factors such as advancing age or lack of family stability might render the obvious choice impractical down the road. Here are a couple of things to consider:

Safeguarding Your Assets

In a perfect world, parents have accumulated some sort of financial assets that would be available to help provide for their children financially in case of an untimely death. While you may not have substantial monetary or liquid assets early in your lives, many parents have some significant wealth tied up in their homes, retirement accounts and life insurance policies. It is very important for parents to fully understand the law does not allow children under 18 to directly inherit these assets. Furthermore, most young adults, even if they are 18, lack the maturity to effectively manage what might amount to a large inheritance. Here are some types of trust vehicles that can be easily put together as part of your estate plan to ensure that your assets are held and managed by a trusted guardian, custodian or trustee:

Final Considerations

When considering the future of your minor children in your Estate Plan, it’s important to consider the following points:

Securing your children’s future through the estate planning process gives parents peace of mind, and can avoid costly, complex, and emotional proceedings in case the unthinkable happens. Setting up a good plan does not always require an expensive, complex process. I urge you, if you have minor children, to take a few moments and think about what plans you have in place, and if they are sufficient to protect your children’s future. I am always happy to provide a free consultation to discuss what might be best to meet your needs.

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The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, provides Estate Planning including Wills and Trusts, Small Business Legal Counsel, Conservatorship/Guardianship, and many other services to individuals and businesses in Northern Virginia.