While the conversation on estate planning is deeply disturbing, especially for parents, we need to have it. And, if you have not had that discussion, you need to have it soon because we never know when it is our time to go. Our job, as parents, is to make sure our children are protected, and a Kent, Washington, estate plan is part of that responsibility.
The first step is figuring out who will take care of your children. This person (or persons) is called the guardian. They step into the place of a child’s parent when that child’s parent dies or becomes incapacitated.
The guardian has all of the same rights and responsibilities as the parent, including making sure they are safe, secure, educated, etc. Really, the only difference is that the guardian may or may not be related by blood.
Choosing the right guardian
When thinking about who would be the best fit as parents, think about who in your family or Kent, Washington, social group most resembles you. Who has the same parenting philosophy? Who has the same religious background?
If you find yourself asking particular friends or family members to watch your children now, perhaps, the same reasons you trust them now are the same reasons you would trust them later.
One of the biggest mistakes that parents make when naming a guardian is not naming several backup guardians. Why? Because life happens, and people change their minds. After all, the weight of parenthood does not actually fall on one’s chest until it becomes real. So, your best friend may find they do not feel ready when called upon, which is why you should have back-ups.
In addition, unless you regularly update your estate plan, some potential guardians may pass before you do. This is why estate planners should name a few potential guardians in case the first couple is not able or willing.
Finally, plan for your Kent, Washington, child’s financial well-being. This is both in the immediate need to help the guardian pay for their new responsibilities, and for after your child becomes an adult, to help them have a happy and prosperous life. This is where a trust can come in handy because you can have all of your assets, accounts and life insurance policies flow into that trust to maximize tax avoidance.
It also has the added benefit of control. You can empower a third party, independent of the guardian as a second pair of eyes, to make sure both the guardian and child spend that inheritance responsibly.