Estate Planning Considerations for Children
Although we always want to be present for our children, it is important to plan for the situation where we may not be so we can ensure to the best of our ability that our children will be cared for as we intend. Sometimes things don't go as planned. For example, an accident may occur. You can engage in estate planning and appoint a guardian for children either in or outside of a will.
Many people consult with an estate planning attorney out of concern for their children. There are a number of questions that can arise involving inheritances, guardianships, and more. Let's take a look at some important concepts surrounding estate planning for children.Inheritance
One thing to plan for children is who will manage assets for their financial support. If you leave an inheritance to minor children, there are some special considerations. Because minor children are not adults, they cannot own property individually. Instead, an adult will have to own and manage any property on their behalf until they reach the age of majority.
If you do not specify in a will or trust who will manage a child's inheritance, a court will have appoint someone and it may not be who you would have selected. You should consider placing a child's inheritance in trust until he or she reaches the age of majority. You can provide for a testamentary trust that comes into being upon death. Alternatively, you can create a revocable living trust that exists during your lifetime.
The second aspect to plan for children is who will provide their care. The person who manages their finances and provides their care may or may not be the same person. You should think about who you trust and their skillsets. Who is good at managing funds and who is good at caring for children? Appointment of the right financial custodian and caregivers is very important.Guardians
If you are a parent your estate plan should address who you want to care for your children should you become incapacitated or die. These are difficult events to think about, but it is important to plan. If there is no one else who is legally entitled to care for the child, such as the other biological parent, you will need to appoint a guardian who will take over parenting responsibilities.
Traditionally, those with children will appoint a guardian in a will. If the other parent is living when one parent is no longer available, then the other parent by law will be the guardian unless parental rights have been terminated. However, there are situations where no parent is available and in those cases guardianship and the care of children passes to someone other than a parent. It is important to choose a caregiver for your children carefully. Although it may be hard to replace the care and affection that a parent can provide, some guardians are better suited to fill the task than others.Guardian Appointment Outside of a Will
A guardian may also be appointed outside of a will. There are two types of documents outside of a will that you can use to appoint someone to care for your child. The first document is a Parent's or Guardian's Delegation of Powers. You can use this document to appoint someone for a temporary basis, no longer than 12 months. For example, some in the military who are assigned overseas may use this to allow someone else to provide care while they are gone. The second is an Appointment of Guardian which becomes effective on death or a determination of incapacity.
If you would like to know your options for ensuring that children are cared for in estate planning, you should consult with an attorney.