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Importance of Estate Planning Documents When You Have Minor Children

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An estate plan is not merely a vehicle for avoiding estate taxes upon death, though many wealthy people view them in this light. However, an estate plan is far more important for other things particularly when you have minor children, whether you are wealthy or not. While most young people don’t think about estate plans, those who have young children should. An estate plan typically consists of a will, a power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. When you have minor children, these legal documents will express your wishes for their care in the event something happens to you and/or your spouse.

What To Consider Regarding Minor Children When Creating An Estate Plan

In most cases, married couples leave their estates to each other upon the first spouse’s death. It is expected that the surviving spouse will use the inherited assets to care and provide for the surviving children. But what if both parents die simultaneously and leave minor children? This happens more often than you would think. Literally hundreds of thousands of children lost parents to COVID-19. And this is when an estate plan becomes extremely important.

For instance, the following issues are those that need to be considered by young parents when making their will:

  • Who will care for minor children in the event both parents die simultaneously? When deciding on a guardian, there are several things that need to be thought through, for instance, the proximity of the guardian’s residence to the children’s current home, the lifestyle and religious beliefs of the guardians, and the financial situation of the guardian. Assuming guardianship of minor children is a major responsibility, and parents need to ask their preferred guardian if they would be willing to care for the children in the event of a tragedy before naming them in a legal document.
  • Whatever assets you have, you must think about how they would be transferred to the child upon the simultaneous death of both parents. If there is no estate plan in place, upon the death of both parents, the child (children) would inherit his or her share of the parents’ estate, and it would be held in an estate of the minor account.
  • Usually how this is handled is through the creation of a minor’s trust in which you name a trustee to manage, invest, and distribute the assets to the minor child according to the terms of the trust. The trust may allow distributions for the child’s health, education, maintenance, and support throughout his or her life. Granted, many young couples may not have the breadth and depth of assets, but whatever they do have need to be designated to the care of their children. Depending on one’s assets there are many different ways to consider.
  • What if you have a child with special needs? This is an even more important consideration for establishing an estate plan as young parents.

Power Of Attorney And Medical Directive

Next, you’ll need to designate a power of attorney and execute an advance medical directive to complete your estate plan. You appoint a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf for medical and financial matters. For instance, if you are still alive but unable to make decisions on your own behalf the Power of Attorney will make those decisions for you. Especially when you have minor children, it’s important to have someone who can and will make these kinds of decisions according to your wishes.

The final piece of your estate plan is an advance medical directive. This document sets forth your last wishes in regard to end-of-life situations. This document differs from a medical power of attorney in that the directive only governs a situation where the declarant, or maker of the advance medical directive, is incompetent, and a doctor has certified that the declarant is in a state of permanent unconsciousness or has an end-stage medical condition.

Prepare For The Worst Expect The Best

None of us knows what will happen to us in this life. Tragedy strikes swiftly and totally unexpectedly. If you have young children, it’s so important to draft an estate plan to ensure that they will be cared for according to your wishes and will be placed with an appropriate guardian. It’s so much more comforting to be prepared. If you never have to use your estate plan, so much the better.

Give our offices a call today. Many people think you must be wealthy or have many assets to have an estate plan, but that is not the case. The care of minor children and children with special needs is even more important.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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