On February 12, 2017,a husband and wife, both in their 30s, were driving down Highway 30 on the east side of Madison. Suddenly, a driver going the opposite direction lost control of his vehicle, drove into the ditch and then went airborne, landing on the couple’s vehicle. The couple died, leaving behind their 1-year-old twin sons.
What will happen to the twins now that they no longer have their parents?
No one expects to die early in life, but unfortunately accidents and other unforeseen circumstances are not uncommon. It’s critical to have a plan in place that will take care of you and your loved ones if you pass away or become disabled.
Here are three reasons why every young family needs an estate plan in place:
Name someone you trust to care for your children.
Most parents have discussed who will care for their children if something happens to them. However, if you don’t put your wishes in writing, your family may be left guessing about what your wishes were. For example, if a young couple passes away leaving their children behind, each spouse’s parents may argue for custody of the children. Or the couple’s siblings may fight over who would be the best choice as guardian.
However, 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 knowing your wishes, your children or your family members. What are the chances the court will understand your family dynamics and pick the person you would have chosen to take care of your children?
By naming a guardian in a will, a young couple can name a person or another couple to raise their children in a way that is acceptable to the parents. By writing down their wishes, the couple can avoid a family fight over the children and can pick the best person for the job.
Provide financial support for your children while protecting 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 your own estate plan, the court will appoint someone to oversee your children’s inheritance. When your children turn 18, they will receive their inheritance in their own name with no directions or restrictions. Many parents believe that 18 is too young to have full control of their inheritance.
By doing your own custom estate plan, you can not only name someone to manage your children’s inheritances, but you can specify when your children can take control of their own inheritances. Moreover, each child may have different needs. By establishing trusts for your children, you can make sure your children’s inheritances are protected and that each individual child’s needs are met.
Plan for disability
We discussed what a young family needs to do to protect children if both parents pass away. But there’s a greater possibility that one or both parents may become disabled due to injury or illness. Periods of disability should be planned for too. Each parent need powers of attorney to give someone you trust the authority to make health care and financial decisions if you are unable to do so. HIPPA authorizations allow you to give your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with your loved ones you name and may include parents, siblings and close friends.
Protect Your Family - Create Your Own Custom Estate Plan Today
Don’t procrastinate any longer. You never know when something will happen to you. It is critical that you have a plan in place to protect your children. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you with the state planning process and can provide valuable guidance along the way.
For many young families, finances are tight and your attorney can help you start with the essential legal documents, and then help you update and upgrade your plan as your family and financial situation changes. Once your plan is in place, you will have peace of mind that your family will be protected if something should happen to you or your spouse.
If you are needing your current estate plan reviewed, or a new plan created to protect your family, call Attorney Matthew Underwood to schedule your complimentary planning consultation today at 608-833-4001.