No one expects to die early. In fact, most people feel pretty immortal in their 20’s and 30’s. After all, they are in the prime of life, so why take time out of their hectic schedules to create an estate plan? Do young families need estate plans?
Unfortunately, tragedy can strike at any age. I recently heard about young couple who died in a car accident, leaving two young children behind. These stories send chills down my spine because I know how such situations can turn the surviving children’s lives into nightmares if there isn’t a solid plan in place that covers the kids’ well-being and future care.
If you want the peace of mind knowing that your children will have the best chance to thrive and experience some level of normalcy in your absence, you need to have a plan in place. Here are three reasons why even young young families need estate plans and why this should be an urgent undertaking for you:
- Because if something happens, no one has the legal right to raise your children.
Most parents have discussed who they would want to raise their children if something happens to them. But, just having the conversation is not enough. If you don’t put your wishes in writing, your family may be left guessing, and often fighting about what your wishes are. For example, if a young couple dies leaving their children behind, each spouse’s parents or the couple’s siblings might argue for custody.
The courts will ultimately determine who will care for your children. If you have not named a guardian, the court will have to appoint someone without having any idea what you would have preferred. What are the chances that the court will understand your family dynamics and select the person you would have chosen?
By naming a guardian in a will, a young couple can select a person to raise their children in a way that is acceptable to them. Simply by putting your wishes in writing, you can avoid a family fight over your children and you can pick the best person for the job.
- Because you need someone to manage your children’s financial support and protect their inheritance from predators.
Most married couples want their assets to be used to care for their children. But, when the children are under 18, they cannot manage their own inheritance. Unless you create an estate plan, the court will appoint someone to oversee your children’s money. When your child turns 18, they will receive their inheritance in their own name with no direction or restrictions. Most people believe that 18 is much too young to have full control over an inheritance of any size.
Fortunately, you can avoid this by naming someone to manage your children’s money in an estate plan. You can also use a Living Trust to specify at what age your children can take control. By setting up trusts, you can make sure your children’s inheritance is protected and that each individual child’s needs are met.
- Because you could become disabled.
We’ve already discussed what a young family needs to do if both parents pass away. But, there’s a bigger chance that one or both parents may become disabled due to illness or injury. Even a temporary disability can wreak havoc on a young family. That is why it is important to plan for this as well. Each parent needs Powers of Attorney to give someone you trust (or simply each other) the authority to make health care and financial decisions. Further, HIPAA authorizations will allow you to give your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with the people you choose, including your spouse, if you can’t communicate such wishes for yourself.
There are many reasons why a young family should not procrastinate on getting their affairs in order. Once your plan is in place, you will have peace of mind that your family will be protected if something happens to you. To get started, call our office at (949) 260-1400 to schedule a free consultation.