If you have young kids, it’s possible that you don’t have a huge estate yet, so there may be no sense of urgency to sign a last will & testament. Why do any estate planning if there’s no estate to plan for, right?
Well, there are at least three big reasons to get a last will & testament in place.
The first reason, which most parents are at least vaguely aware of, is to appoint guardians. It’s not fun to think about, but if you suddenly disappear and you have a minor child then you will need someone to take over to make personal, medical and educational decisions for your child. Your appointment of guardian is made in your will. If there is no will, then it’s up the court to appoint someone as guardian. In some families, the choice is relatively obvious. But in many families, it’s not. And in some families it’s clear that World War III is going to break out over who will become guardian if there are no legal instructions in place. Don’t leave this potential landmine behind for your child and family. They will be going through enough turmoil as it is.
Secondly, you will probably want someone to manage your child’s inheritance for her if she is over the age of majority but still relatively young when you pass away. For most clients, the age range for this is 18 to 25. In other words, a child over the age of 18 (in Connecticut) is legally competent to manage her own inheritance, but she may not be actually competent to do so if she is under 25. Most folks under 25 don’t have a lot of investment experience and could potentially be easy prey to scam artists. If you’re shrugging this off because you don’t think your estate is very big then think again, particularly if you have life insurance. It seems like nearly all of my clients end up underestimating the size of their estate by a good amount.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll simply feel like a responsible and diligent parent. I’m certainly not trying to lay a guilt-trip on anyone who hasn’t attended to this yet. As a father of three young boys myself, I know first-hand how crazy the schedule can be with young kids. But yearning for some peace-of-mind seems to be what drives most of my clients with minor kids to come in and get their wills done.
DISCLAIMER: This blog does not offer legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog.