If You Have Minor Children

If you have minor children, you will want to provide for them in the event of your death.  Following are a few of the issues you should discuss with your estate planning attorney in this regard:

  • You will need to name suitable guardians for your children.  The guardians are the people who will be responsible for raising your children to adulthood should your spouse and you both die prior to your children reaching age 18.  Your estate planner can help you through the difficult process of determining who might realistically be able to serve as your children’s guardians.
  • Have you provided adequately for your children’s guardians?  This is a very important issue that is often overlooked in estate planning.  Think for a minute about how busy (and expensive) your life is.  Now think about how much more challenging your life would become if you were suddenly called upon to take a child (or several children) into your home and raise them to adulthood.  Guardians face significant financial and emotional challenges, and a good estate plan should seek to assist the guardians with those challenges.  For example, it is entirely possible that your children’s guardians might need to buy a bigger house, or significantly expand their existing house, to accommodate your children.  It is also possible that a guardian who is employed might have to give up his or her job to look after your children; even a guardian who is not employed might need to hire additional child care.  Your estate planning attorney can help you craft a plan that will help your children, their guardians, and the guardians’ own children create a harmonious, happy life together.
  • Do you have adequate assets and/or life insurance to provide for your children until they reach adulthood, given the standard of living and education you want them to have?
  • If there are assets left over after your children have reached the age of majority, what should happen to those assets?  Should the assets be distributed outright to the children as soon as they reach adulthood (i.e. at age 18 or 21), or would you want the assets held in trust until the children are older?
  • Do any of your children have special needs?  If so, special provisions might need to be made for them in your estate plan.