When it comes to estate planning, families with minor children face unique challenges and responsibilities. While it may seem daunting, planning for the future is the most loving and responsible step you can take to ensure your children are well cared for in case the unexpected happens. We believe families do best when they plan for themselves. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of estate planning for families with minor children and provide essential strategies to safeguard their future.

Why Estate Planning is Vital for Families with Minor Children

1. Guardianship: Perhaps the most crucial aspect of estate planning for families with young kids is the designation of a guardian. In your will, you can specify who will be responsible for your children’s care and the assets your leave behind when you and your spouse pass away. A guardian of the person takes care of your children’s well-being until they turn eighteen (18) while a guardian of the estate will manage the assets you have left behind for them until they reach the age of twenty-one (21).
2. Financial Security: Estate planning ensures your children’s financial future. By creating trusts or designating a financial guardian, you can guarantee that their inheritances are managed wisely until they reach adulthood.
3. Educational Support: If you have specific desires regarding your children’s education, estate planning allows you to set aside funds for their schooling, ensuring their access to quality education.
4. Emotional Well-being: Estate planning helps minimize disputes and legal issues, ensuring a smoother transition of assets, so your children don’t have to face unnecessary stress during an already challenging time.

Essential Strategies for Estate Planning with Minor Children

1. Will and Guardianship: Your will is the foundation of your estate plan. In your will you can clearly define who you want to be guardian of the person and estate for your children and how you want your assets to be distributed for their benefit. This will provide a measure of protection until your children turn twenty-one (21) years age. Appropriate estate planning does not end there, however.

2. Trusts: If you die without a will that contains a trust or don’t otherwise plan for this contingency, whatever assets that you have left behind will pass to your children at age twenty-one (21) pursuant to the Uniform Gifts to Minor’s Act. In practice, this translates to the frequent need for court intervention, which is both an inconvenience and an unnecessary expense. Because the UGTMA dictates that your children will receive 100% of their inheritance at age 21, at an age where they are not sufficiently mature to receive it, you may be inadvertently setting them up for failure.

Establishing a trust or trusts within or apart from your will can be an effective way to manage and protect your children’s inheritance. A trust can hold and distribute assets to your children when they reach an appropriate age that is chosen by you, and also ensure that the assets are managed and invested by a person of your choosing until that time.

3. Regular Review: As your family’s circumstances change, be sure to regularly review and update your estate plan to reflect your current situation and wishes.

Estate planning for families with minor children is a loving and responsible way to protect their well-being and future. By carefully considering guardianship, financial security, educational support, and emotional well-being, you can create a comprehensive plan that ensures your children are taken care of, no matter what lies ahead. Don’t delay—start your estate planning journey today to secure your family’s tomorrow.