People frequently make the mistake of operating under the assumption that estate planning is only necessary when you have a valuable estate to protect and pass down. If you are the parent of young children, however, your children are the most valuable “asset” one can have, meaning you have more incentive than anyone to create a comprehensive estate plan. The best way to ensure that your estate plan protects you and your children is to work closely with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney; however, the following estate planning tips for parents of young children may also be helpful.
1. Use your Last Will and Testament to nominate a guardian.
Like most people you probably think a Will is only used to determine how estate assets are distributed upon your death; however, your Will allows you to do something that is potentially far more important than deciding who gets what from your estate. Your Will is the only opportunity you have to nominate a guardian for your children should one ever be needed.
2. Always have a power of attorney in place for caregivers.
Whether it is for two hours or two weeks, make sure anyone who is caring for your children has the legal authority necessary to make life and death decisions, such as consent to medical treatment, in your absence.
3. Don’t overlook the importance of incapacity planning.
Death is not the only threat to your ability to parent your children. If you were to become incapacitated tomorrow what would happen to your children? Who would have access to assets needed to fund their care? An incapacity plan will plan for the possibility of your incapacity and ensure that you and your children are protected in the event the possibility becomes reality.
4. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how trusts work and make use of them in your plan.
A trust agreement, of some sort, is an extremely common addition to any estate plan created by the parent(s) of young children. Often, a testamentary trust is created to protect and manage estate assets until the children reach the age of majority should the parent(s) die before the children are old enough to inherit directly.
5. Evaluate your estate for liquidity.
Leaving sufficient assets to a spouse to care for your children is often the goal of an estate plan; however, if the assets left behind lack liquidity they won’t be able to help your spouse and children for months, even years, after your death because they are tied up in probate. Your spouse and children needs immediate access to assets after your death in order to pay the bills and maintain the standard of living to which they are accustomed.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your Texas estate plan, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.