Legally Speaking: Planning for New Families
Newlyweds and New Parents Need Estate Planning Too!
Congratulations! Life is new and exciting! You’re a “grownup” now! You’ve recently married or welcomed a new bundle of joy into your life!
The honeymoon, unfortunately, is over, and it might occur to you that “I’m not just living for me, I’m living for them too!” You worry about how to protect and provide for your new family. The adage “Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail” rings true. You have responsibilities, so where do you start to get your affairs in order?
These thoughts usually fade as quickly as they come when you are young and healthy (and very busy). Unfortunately, procrastination will not protect your family if tragedy strikes, and it strikes when you least expect it. Do you drive without insurance? No, you have insurance to protect against the worst, but hope you’ll never have to use it. Sadly, there are nearly 140,000 accidental deaths in the US each year, and nearly 2.4 million injuries annually resulting in disability.
Who will take care of me, my spouse, or my children if I’m incapacitated or dead? What if my spouse is unable to do this?
Now is the time to plan and prepare so your family is protected! Whether it’s a simple Will and a power of attorney or a comprehensive Revocable Living Trust package, make it a priority to plan for your family’s future.
A Will based Estate Plan allows you to appoint who will administer your Estate after you die. You can designate who gets what when you die. With a Will, the distribution happens all at once, rather than over a period of time. If you have young children, a Will allows you to say who should take care of them if you and your spouse are both deceased. A Will based plan is important to have and, while it will not necessarily avoid probate, it lets everyone know your wishes.
A Trust based Estate Plan avoids probate and grants you more control over how everything is distributed after you pass away. Would you prefer that your children wait until they are 25 or 30 or 55 before they inherit a large sum of money? Do you want to plan for your pets? Do you have anyone with special needs that cannot manage their own inheritance? A Trust will meet your needs under these different circumstances and can be updated over time as things change. Other benefits are creditor protection for your children, probate avoidance, and more privacy.
Are these options a little overwhelming to consider right now? You should educate yourself and consider your options based on your needs and budget. At the bare minimum you should have “Life Care” documents in place. These include Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney that authorize others to take care of you if you become incapacitated. These can save your family from expensive and difficult guardianship and conservatorship court proceedings. They also typically include a Living Will (Advance Medical Directives) and Memorial Instructions.
Creating these simple documents now will remove a massive burden from your family if you do suffer a catastrophe that leaves you incapacitated. Without these in place, your loved ones are not only dealing with a tragedy, they are also spending time, money, and energy on lawyers and court fees to gain legal authority over your care and property.
A basic Estate Plan for your young family is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. You are not just living for yourself now, so please consider…Leaving a Legacy, Not a Burden!
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