Bun in the Oven? Time to Get an Estate Plan Baking, Too

January 24, 2019

If You’re Expecting, It’s Time to Get an Estate Plan.

You might be at the age where it seems as though all of your friends, colleagues, or family are having children.  Those nifty pregnancy apps that tell you to get a will or trust before baby arrives? Listen to them.  It is important to put together an estate plan before you meet your new tiny roommate, but if you already have young children under 18, there is no better time than the present to start on putting together a will or trust. Whether you are married, single, widowed or just thinking about the future, if you are the parent of a minor child, this article should guide you on why setting up an estate plan is so important.

Why Get an Estate Plan?

There are two vital reasons to get an estate plan drafted and executed while you have minor children in your household. First, is to settle who will serve as guardian of your children if you and your spouse pass away. Second, is to safeguard your assets and protect your legacy.

Importance of Naming Guardians for Minor Children in a Will

Naming guardians for your children if something happens to both you and your spouse, is essential. Naming a guardian in a will is important even if you do not have a lot of assets. You and your spouse should discuss this topic in order to decide on your first and second choice of guardians. Typically, we suggest naming you or your spouse’s sister or brother, or even one of your parents or friends who may be unburdened by many kids of their own. Naming guardians will give you peace of mind that the person or persons you trust and respect will care for your young children if you pass away. Not to mention, naming a guardian saves time and money in the event that you and your spouse pass away, as it avoids a costly guardianship process. If you do not name a guardian, your family has to petition the courts for a guardian which means a potential family fight, where a judge decides what is best for your child.

Protecting Your Assets With a Will or Trust

Think on this: What happens to that IRA, life insurance, investment account or bank account if you never named someone as beneficiary on the cumbersome paperwork you shoved in a desk drawer long ago? What happens if you never updated those forms when child number one, two, or three entered your life? If you don’t have a will, an estate has to be opened in your county of residence so that a probate judge can appoint someone (either your surviving spouse, if alive, or a near relative) to administer your estate. This includes liquidating assets and determining the lineage of descent for whom would receive assets based on the laws of intestacy. If you have named beneficiaries on your accounts, that is a great first step, but it won’t cover all your assets without a will or a trust. Not to mention, probates are costly and time consuming. It also means your minor children can get their hands on their inheritance when they reach the age of 18.

Estate planning lets you set up who and how your money is used for your children’s benefit, and at what age they can receive their money outright.

Our approach is to make estate planning as efficient and cost-effective as possible, because we believe that everyone deserves to be able to afford an estate plan. We offer estate plans on a flat fee and hourly basis to accommodate the vast needs of our clients, regardless of what stage they are at in their lives.

For more information about "Bun in the Oven? Time to Get an Estate Plan Baking, Too," contact Tracy J. Murn at tmurn@axley.com or 262.409.2294.