Estate Planning for Families with Young Children

Like many people, you may believe that estate planning is just for the wealthy, or that you don’t need to bother with it until you’re older. But estate planning is important even for people without many assets, and especially for those with young children. A properly drafted estate plan can protect your young family in the event the unthinkable happens.

What happens to your children if you die without a plan?

Losing a parent is always a traumatic experience, no matter how old you are when it happens. For young children, that experience is all the more painful and stressful. The death of a parent robs them of the emotional and financial support they have always known, and in some cases places them under control of an unfamiliar legal system that will determine where they live and who cares for them.

For your part, dying without a plan means giving up the power to decide what happens to your property and the ability to protect your children by choosing their caretaker. Instead, those decisions will be made by a court, without the benefit of your parental insight. This can lead to acrimonious litigation as relatives fight to be appointed guardian, unwittingly inflicting further suffering on your children.

How an estate plan protects your children

A properly implemented estate plan gives you the power to protect your young family even in your absence. With just a simple will, you can determine how your assets will be divided, and you can nominate someone you trust to care for your children as their guardian.

In addition, you may want to establish a living trust. Doing so gives you greater control over how and when your children receive their inheritance. With a trust, you can not only choose who will manage your children’s inheritance until they become of age, but you can define when they will become of age, enabling you to protect that inheritance until they are older and more mature.

You can even use the trust to establish incentives for your children—like a special distribution when they graduate from college—enabling you to guide them long after you’re gone.

Importantly, the person you name as trustee needn’t be the same person as the guardian you nominate in your will. So, you can name one relative to take care of your children, and another person to handle the trust’s financial affairs, allowing you to delegate those roles to the individuals best suited for each.

How The Law Offices of Bridget Mackay can help you

The Law Offices of Bridget Mackay is a Petaluma estate planning law firm proudly serving the areas of Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa. We offer comprehensive estate planning services for individuals of all ages and income levels.

In addition to preparing wills, trust agreements, and related estate planning documents such as powers of attorney and advance health care directives, we also offer a Guardian’s Journal for parents of young children. The Guardian’s Journal contains information about your family and your child’s health care, day-to-day routines, and social and recreational activities. This makes the transition to a guardian as smooth as possible in the event it is needed.

When you contact us to help with your estate plan, we’ll work closely with you to create a plan that can grow as your family does. Once your plan is in place, we’ll meet with you every three years to ensure that it still meets your needs and furthers your goals.

To learn more about how an estate plan can protect your family sign up for our free educational webinar, or contact The Law Offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma at (707) 769-9975. You can also send us a message through our Contact Us page.


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