If you do not have a will the state will provide one for you. And if you are married with young children and both parents die, who becomes the children’s guardian will be up to the state’s court system.
No will? No problem – the state will provide one for you. But how likely is it that the state will carry out your wishes regarding assets and guardian selection of your children? How would the state even know what you want to happen?
A post on the CBS Boston website titled “Estate Planning For All” explains more.
Yes, your state’s estate laws and the probate judge will decide who will get your assets if you die. And if you are married with young children and both you and your spouse pass at the same time, the judge also gets to decide who will be the children’s guardian.
Think about that.
Now think about your family. Is there a cousin Vinny, or maybe a Cousin Itt on the family tree?
Do you want either of those two and their families raising your kids?
Talk to the person(s) you are considering to raise your children. Find out about their values, goals, parenting style, and maybe most importantly—their patience level.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or complicated. And it’s not just for millionaires and movie stars. You still want to do it right, and you should turn to a professional to make sure you have the following documents drafted correctly.
- Living Trust. Keeps your money out of court altogether and appoints someone to manage money for minor children without court.
- Draft a will. If you don’t create a living trust, a will you draft will be better than the will the state imposes on you at death. Name an executor/executrix to execute your wishes and distribute your assets and if you have minor children you should name a guardian for them.
- Sign a Durable Power of Attorney. This lets you to appoint an individual to act on your behalf legally and financially if you are incapacitated. Beware the pitfalls of durable powers of attorney. Speak to a qualified attorney to learn more.
- Health Care Proxy. This lets you to select someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them. You need to have a discussion with the person you ask to be your proxy about how you feel about death, dying, and life support. Make sure they understand that this is about you and your wishes—not about what they think is right.
Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney, create a sound estate planning strategy, and keep Cousins Vinny and Itt out of the plans.
Reference: CBS Boston (May 1, 2015) “Estate Planning For All”
For help in making estate planning decisions, please see our website.