Although fatal illnesses and accidents happen every day, nobody on the face of this earth believes they could be the victims. The younger you are, the less likely it seems, and being parents to young children can only make the possibility that much more unthinkable. However, if your offspring are under the age of legal consent, protecting their futures against your possible loss is really your greatest responsibility. This means giving your undivided consideration to two vital areas: their guardianship and their financial future.
Unless you’ve made specific arrangements to the contrary, your children’s future living arrangements will depend in large part upon the current makeup of your family circle. In a traditional two-parent household, their custody will normally revert to the surviving spouse. In a blended family, the legal question becomes somewhat murkier, and if you are a single parent, you need to consider that you are only half of your children’s biological picture. Should anything happen to you, a surviving parent may have some say in the matter.
Of course, if neither parent should survive, the prospects will dim considerably. Unless you’ve specified otherwise, the probate court will determine your children’s fate, choosing guardians for their care and inheritance until they have reached the age of legal consent. If so, administrative costs can mount up quickly, depleting the worth of any assets held in your children’s name.
There is an alternative. It involves doing the intelligent thing and making your wishes known with a set of specific instructions. At Heffel Law Firm, we can show you how.
A well-thought-out will or trust allows you to designate your choice of guardian for your children and their assets in the event of your untimely demise. This will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that despite the unfortunate circumstances, your children will receive the type of care you’d want.
In choosing a prospective guardian, you’ll want to ensure that the person you designate:
In addition to naming a personal guardian, you may want to name an alternate in case of emergency. You can also choose to name two halves of a stable couple to serve as co-parents.
Money will also play a role. Unless you can provide it in sufficient amounts to cover the costs of raising your children, you’ll want to be sure that the person you designate to care for them can afford to take over the job.
Making provisions for your children’s future means more than simply choosing someone to bring them up. At Heffel Law Firm, we emphasize the importance of protecting any property or money that they stand to inherit.
Many people correctly fear that money left outright to a minor is by definition in danger of being wasted by the child or confiscated by a surviving parent, guardian or relative. A trust or custodial account will help to prevent this by stipulating the conditions under which the money will be held and eventually distributed.
For instance, your options in this regard include setting up:
Despite their apparent differences, all distribution methods serve one valuable purpose: that of ensuring the protection of your children’s inheritance while allowing you complete control over when, where and how they eventually receive it.
In the event of your early or unexpected death, the actions you take in the present are certain to affect your children in the future. Don’t leave any of this to chance. To speak with a qualified estate planning attorney, contact Heffel Law Firm today.