Young couples can name a number of reasons to put off estate planning:
Too Young! Too Busy! Too Healthy! Not Rich!
But we know those aren’t good reasons. Putting an estate plan in place now is being prudent and responsible, and it shows your family how much you care. One of the biggest reasons for a young family to come in is to name a guardian for their minor children. Choosing a guardian is choosing the person who will accept your children into their own family as their own children. A guardian will love, support, and care for them as any parent would for their own child. Who will make them dinner at night and read them bedtime stories? Who will be the one to take them to soccer games and school dances? Who will cheer them on as they walk across the stage at their high school graduation? You must choose the person to whom you will entrust the lives and the livelihoods of your children, and this choice may need to be revisited over time to best meet the needs of your children.Know a young couple who needs to have this conversation? Maybe a planning gift certificate to C&P is a good nudge.
His, Hers and Ours… It’s complicated. Families with children from a prior relationship come to the estate planning table with their own defined needs. Not only must they plan for individuals with different needs, but often with different assets. These planning issues of keeping family assets “in the family” can bring up difficult issues and even harder decisions such as; when do I “share” my assets with a child not my own? How will my children feel if I leave some of my money to someone else’s children? Of course, these questions are more easily answered after the “blended” family has been together awhile, but planning shouldn’t wait for that. With a new family, it’s even more important that you have a comprehensive estate plan that properly acknowledges the new relationships, but is clear about whose assets will go to whom and in what way.
PLANNING AFTER DIVORCE
Often overlooked are changes that need to be made in estate planning following a divorce. Most people would agree that their ex-spouse is the last person they want to inherit their assets when they die—or to have that person make life and death decisions for them. While you may feel like you have parted ways, if you have a joint trust with your spouse, the trust remains in effect. Even if the trust contains language addressing the possibility of divorce, you should actively revoke the trust and create a new one which protects you, your children, and your assets, and is tailored to your new life and goals.
Our clients know that we see estate planning as a process. How could it not be? Tax laws will change and so will the circumstances of your life, with marriage, divorce, birth, and death. Thoughtful planning is a process, and your plan should stay current with your specific life changes. Whatever stage you find your family in, we are here to help.