Who would care for your children should you become incapacitated in an accident or die unexpectedly from an illness or accident? Would your children live with their grandparents? If so, which set of grandparents? Where would they go to school? These are questions that you likely don’t want to consider right now because talking about death is never easy.
However, planning now for the unthinkable is an important part of being a parent. You need to protect your minor children and young adult children as much as possible for the day when you are no longer here to do so yourself. The compassionate and experienced team at Gershberg & Associates, LLC will be able to answer your questions and guide you through the process of estate planning.
What Should be Included When Planning for a Minor Child?
When you are putting together a plan for your minor child, the following should be included:
- Temporary guardianship: someone who can immediately take care of your children in an emergency so they do not wind up in the hands of an agency
- Permanent guardianship: someone who will become the child’s legal guardian should you die before they turn 18
- Instructions for the guardians: written instructions should be provided to temporary and permanent guardians so they know exactly how you want your children raised
- Powers of attorney: powers of attorney for care of a minor, which permits you to name an attorney-in-fact to make decisions regarding the care of your children when you are unable to do so
- Designation of health care surrogate: this provides the medical care your children need when they travel without you or you without them should the need arise
How to Choose a Guardian?
Choosing a guardian is not as easy as it seems. You need to take quite a bit into consideration when reviewing your options, including the following:
- The age of your children and the age of the potential guardian
- The potential guardian’s religious beliefs, values, and own parenting styles
- The stage of life your potential guardians are in (married, divorced, widowed, retired, working, young children of their own)
- Where the potential guardian lives
- The relationship the potential guardian has with your children (they don’t need to be a blood relative but there should be some sort of relationship)
- Willingness of the potential guardian (speak with them before making it legal)
- The potential guardian’s financial situation and personal responsibility
What Should be Included When Planning for a Young Adult?
As your children grow, you teach them new things related to their age. When they are 16, 17, or 18, you teach them how to drive. You teach them how to answer questions in an interview for a first job. When they reach 20 or older it’s time to discuss how they can protect themselves and their finances. This includes encouraging them to create a will and other legal documents, especially if they are moving closer to marriage. When you are creating a plan for your young adult, the following should be included:
- A durable power of attorney: names an attorney-in-fact who will care for your financial and personal matters when you cannot do so
- Last will and testament: your young adult child can create a last will and testament that is simple. Many young people enjoy engaging in risky activities, including skydiving, mountain climbing, and traveling the world. A simple will outlines what’s to happen to your finances should you die in an accident.
- Designate a health care surrogate: this person will be responsible for making healthcare decisions for you when you become incapacitated
- Living will: this document outlines the use of life-sustaining equipment and measures in the event you become terminally ill. This document, along with the health care surrogate, will provide detailed instructions to the doctor as to how to proceed with care.
- Digital asset spreadsheet: create a digital spreadsheet that contains the website addresses, usernames, and passwords of all your financial accounts and other accounts your parents will need if you become incapacitated or die