Hi there, Bridget Mackay of Bridget Mackay law offices here in Petaluma, California. I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law. And today’s topic is going to be about young families and what sort of estate planning needs they have.

Some of you out there who have young children or your parents to adult children who have young children. You may be thinking there really needs to be no estate planning because I really don’t have an estate? And, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is, if you are a parent and you have minor children. Then, you have one huge really good reason to plan and that is for the safety of your children. What are the five things I want you to think about if you’re a young family and planning?

The first is, and the biggest is. If something happens to me and my spouse. Who would care for my children? And I just mean in a physical sense. Who would take care of them? Are they aligned with your philosophical and religious beliefs and childrearing beliefs? Are they people that you would trust to raise your child as if they were their own? Or if you were not here along the lines that you wanted your children raised?

The second is, is there something to financially provide for my children if my spouse and I are no longer around? I don’t mean you have to have a lot of assets like a house or a huge investment portfolio. It could maybe even just be the beginnings of a 401k and a large life insurance policy. So, it’s important to know that you have something to provide for your children if you are not there to provide for them.

The third question is, if I have these assets and something happens, and nobody can take care of my children. Then who am I going to choose to manage those financial assets for their benefit? OK? And that’s as important as choosing who is going to take care of them physically and emotionally.

And then fourth is, what the vehicle in which I’m going to make all of these decisions? You have two choices, a will or a trust. And you need to talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to decide which is best, a best fit for you.

And then finally if something happens short of death to my spouse or I who would manage our financial affairs and who would make our medical decisions in that situation? If you don’t have documents in place to address that question, which would be a durable power of attorney or health care directive. Then, you need to get on that quickly.

So, any of you out there who have young families and think nothing’s going to happen to you. You are quite wrong. Things happen to people all the time. And especially if young children are involved, it could turn out to be a very tragic event.

So, if you are a young family with minor children, give a call to an experienced estate planning attorney and find out what you need to have in place and what you need to know.

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