Just as you take all measures to protect your children against illness and injury, you should also take steps to protect their future if you cannot be present. If you are a young family living in California and have dependent children of any age, you should have an estate plan in place.
OC Wills & Trust Attorneys has been assisting Californians for years in safeguarding their loved ones from the unexpected and unforeseeable. Contact our Irvine or Huntington Beach office today and request a free estate planning consultation.
Elements of a Comprehensive Estate Plan for Children
Wills and trusts are not just for those who have substantial assets or large bank accounts. Young parents and their families can benefit from estate planning too. It allows them to designate what will happen with their children if they should pass away before their children reach adulthood.
Some of the decisions an estate planning lawyer from OC Wills & Trust Attorneys can help you decide include:
Who will care for your children?
If you and your children’s other parent are not alive and able to care for your children, who will do so? If there is no close family member available and willing to take charge of your children, the court may need to appoint an adult to take on this important responsibility.
In some extreme cases, your children may be taken into protective custody and placed with a foster family until the court can sort out the matter.
A comprehensive estate plan gives you the ability to name one or more guardians who will be responsible for safeguarding your children in your absence. The guardian or guardians you select will be granted custody and control over your children by the court and charged with raising them to adulthood.
For this reason, the decision of who will act as their guardian is paramount. We can help you in selecting an individual who shares your values and is committed to raising your children as closely as possible to the way you would.
How will your children be supported financially?
If you do not have a will or trust in place at the time of your death, your assets are divided between your surviving children and spouse, if applicable, according to California law.
If your children are minors, the assets they inherit are held in trust for them by an adult appointed by the court until they reach the age of majority.
This may not be how you want your assets to be divided or utilized. You may want to ensure that your children go to college or have the funds necessary to establish themselves in adulthood. These goals can be accomplished with an estate plan, and particularly with a trust.
With a trust, you can direct which assets will be available to support your children and how those assets are to be used. You are also able to appoint a trustee to oversee how your assets are invested and distributed. A trust can continue even beyond the lives of your children and provide financial benefits to your future descendants.
Will family traditions endure?
Many families have special traditions that extend back years. Perhaps an engagement or wedding ring has been passed down to the firstborn child for generations. Or maybe you want to start a new tradition with your children by ensuring that the family home is available to the youngest child.
You can make these and any other personal directives part of your estate plan.
Without an enforceable will or trust in place, specific gifts and bequests to your children must be made during your lifetime to guarantee your children receive the items. Some things, like a home, cannot be transferred to a child while they are still a minor.
With a well-drafted estate plan, you can dictate who receives what tangible property and the conditions under which they are to receive it.
Don’t Put Off Creating Your Estate Plan for Your Children
If you have children of any age, having an up-to-date estate plan that names a guardian and provides for your children’s needs can provide you with much-needed peace of mind.
You may not have much control over the future, but you can have a say in who will raise your children if you cannot and how your personal and real property are to be used for their benefit.
If you are ready to protect your family’s future with a personalized and professionally created estate plan, the legal professionals at OC Wills & Trust Attorneys are eager to speak with you.
Our Orange County estate planning team will work with you to craft an estate plan that reflects your desires and wishes for your children. Contact our office today and request a free initial consultation with us to get started.