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An Estate Plan is About People, Not Just Things

Bigstock-Extended-Family-Outside-Modern-13915094If the first thing parents learned about estate planning, was that it is a way to protect their children from being raised by their rebellious brother, chances are good that every parent would rush to have their estate plan done.

Most of us understand that an estate plan is to distribute assets after we die. However, anyone with children under age 18, need to know that their will is used to name who they want to raise their children if they should both die. A will is also used to name the person who will take care of the money left for the children. This should be taught in Parenting 101.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “What's missing from your estate plan?” advises that it may not be a good idea to have the same person perform both of these tasks. Separating the people who care for your kids from those with free access to the money left behind, may be a better choice for your personal family situtation. If the parents’ estate plans do not include instructions concerning the children, those left behind can have drastically different opinions about where the children should live and how they should be cared for.

When families feel strongly about those issues, it also creates difficulties for the children. They’re not only mourning the loss of the parents, but now their loved ones may be at each other’s throats, in a legal attempt to gain custody that will drain resources and divide the family. However, there are some simple steps that can avoid this additional cost and emotional trauma.

Don’t leave a hole in your estate plan by omitting a document that addresses what happens to you, if you become incapacitated. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is an essential component of a complete estate plan. This document answers "end of life" questions, particularly whether a person should be kept alive by artificial means. Most of us don’t want our families making those difficult choices, so have your estate planning attorney draft an advance directive, so they won’t have to.

Another part of your estate plan that protects people, is a medical durable power of attorney. This is used for almost all medical decisions, except for those dealing with your death. If you don’t have one in place, and you are incapacitated, your family and medical providers have to guess what you want. Name a person to take on this role and have candid conversations about what you would want. This spares your loved ones from further stress during a difficult time, and lets you have more of a choice about your own care.

Parents of young children need to have an estate plan, as soon as they become parents. See an estate planning attorney, who will be able to make sure that you and your young family are prepared for the ups and downs of life.  Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (August 27, 2018) “What's missing from your estate plan?”

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