While we all see estate planning as a long-term strategy, which it is, it also can be for short-term items as well. It is easy to focus all your energy on the aspects of your estate plan that are far reaching, like retirements savings and what will happen to your assets after your passing. Yet, what about in those moments before your strategy for the longevity of your assets kicks in? Or more importantly, if you have minor children, what will happen to them in the first few days after your passing? An article from Forbes, “What Is Micro Estate Planning And Do You Need It?” emphasizes the need to consider the short-term plan for your children.
It cannot be stressed enough, if you have children, you need an estate plan. If you are expecting a child, begin the process of forming one. Your estate plan is not just about dictating what happens to your assets and wealth when you pass, it is also an important tool for ensuring your children are raised by whom you would be most comfortable with in the event you were to pass before they reached adulthood.
As you establish your estate plan, or if you have already established one, there is a more short-term piece to consider, the first hours and first days following your passing. If your children are with a babysitter or at camp, who are they to go to? If the person(s) who you have named as guardian(s) are people who your children do not see a lot or are located in a different state or several towns away, maybe there are grandparents, neighbors or family friends closer by who your children see more frequently that might be of more comfort in those first few days. This is something you will want to think through, as you want to make sure your children can have as much familiarity and comfort as possible during the turbulent time of losing parents. All these questions should be answered in your estate plan. You do not want your children potentially being whisked off by police officers and brought to an institution while it is determined where your children need to go.
It is not easy to consider the plan for children after you pass. Yet, making these tough decisions is vital. You cannot predict the future, but you can make sure your children will be taken care of. In addition to having the short-term planned for, make sure you have a copy of your wishes for your children somewhere handy for someone to access. Inform the babysitter about where they would find such documentation, or have the emergency contact for camp be someone who knows where the documentation is, or is the person who is to take them in for the short-term. Talk with your family and friends who are involved in your children’s lives about your wishes. Communication is another key element. Couple that with your plan and you can sure that your children will be taken care of as you would wish in the event you are no longer able to do so.
Work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to establish your estate plan and to ensure your plan covers the necessary elements.
At our firm, we discuss these important issues during our “Family Care MeetingTM”. At this meeting, we bring up “what it would look like” if and when the parent dies and who should be there initially for the children. The client, their advisors, guardians, trustees and those who will care for the children have a detailed discussion on how best to handle the care of children.
For more information on the Family Care MeetingTM and other estate planning topics, visit our website today and schedule your consultation to begin the process of protecting your children’s futures, for both your potential passing while they are minors and for establishing a plan for when they are adults set to inherit your assets.
Reference: Forbes (August 8, 2018) “What Is Micro Estate Planning And Do You Need It?”