Family Estate Planning
When you become a parent, the last thing you want to think about is how your kids will be taken care of when you’re gone. But when you have a family, one of the first things on your to-do list should be to create a family estate plan. Family estate planning gives you control over things like who becomes the guardian of your kids when they become entitled to inheritance and how any inheritance is used.
At The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen, we know how important it is to make sure your children are taken care of. We take a holistic approach to family estate planning that ensures all of your family members are covered, and we create personalized plans to fit your unique needs.
While it may seem overwhelming, we can help reduce the stress of planning for the future by walking you through your options. Our firm offers a range of estate planning tools, including wills, trusts, healthcare proxies and powers of attorney. What will work best for you and your family depends on a variety of factors, and we always work to get a big-picture view of your goals before deciding on the best options.
Estate Plans vs. Wills
If you already have a will in place, you may be wondering why you’d need an estate plan. And if you don’t have a will, you may wonder why you’d need both a will and an estate plan.
A will can be a stand-alone document or an essential part of your overall estate plan. Your will is a written testament of who you want to be your children’s guardian, how you want to distribute your assets and who will be in charge of probate on your estate.
In addition to your will, an estate plan may include:
- A trust, which can help your children avoid probate on any assets so they and quicker access to those assets. If, for example, you plan to leave your house to your children, a trust can make sure that your children can immediately live in the house without going through a lengthy probate process. There are also specific trusts that can provide for children or a family member with a disability, protect assets from the cost of long-term care or support a charitable cause.
- Healthcare proxies, which designate who can make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to yourself. If you have young children, it’s important to choose someone who is of age and competent, and who you trust to make a decision on your behalf. As your children become adults, you can always update these documents to name them instead.
- Powers of attorney, which designate who can help you manage your finances and pay your bills if you’re unable to yourself. When you include this document as part of your estate planning, you take the pressure off of your kids to worry about it.
Whether you choose to make only a will or a more robust estate plan, we can help. We will walk through each document with you, explain its benefits and help you make an informed decision about who you want named as beneficiaries, guardians and proxies so that you can feel confident in your choices.
Making Sure Your Kids are Protected
Family estate planning may be done for your peace of mind, but it’s also to make sure that your kids are protected. A good estate plan will protect your children, especially in instances when you or your spouse pass while your kids are still minors or young adults.
In the event of a parent’s death, you don’t want your young children to have to wonder who will get custody of them, where they will live or how they will pay for things like food and school. With a solid estate plan, there will be no question of who will take care of your children and how they will fare financially.
With a trust, you can allocate a certain amount of money to be used for education and determine how and when certain assets should be used. For example, you can have the trust hold onto any financial assets like bank accounts and stock holdings until your kids are age 25 and hopefully old enough to manage money responsibly.
A continuing trust can even offer your kids protection from creditors and divorce, so that any financial assets that are held in the trust remain theirs, no matter what.
When you work with a family estate planning lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen, you’ll create a plan that has your children’s best interests in mind. We encourage you to create an estate plan for your family as soon as possible so that all of these decisions get made with your input. While you never want to imagine the unthinkable happening, it’s good to be prepared.
Nominating a Guardian for Your Child
One of the hardest decisions to make when creating an estate plan is determining who will be the best guardian for your child. If you have someone in mind, here are some things you should consider:
- Does your child have an existing relationship with the person, and is it a good one?
- Will your child have to move out of state to live with this person? Uprooting your child after the death of a parent can be difficult for them. Does this person have a family of their own, and, if so, do they have the capacity to care for another child?
- Does this person have similar moral values, religious affiliation and sense of family as you and your spouse?
- Does the person have a demanding career that has them traveling a lot, or do they work close to or at home?
- How responsible is this person? Do they get bills paid on time and can they hold down a job, or are they always in debt and unemployed?
You should also take into account the age and health of the person you want to be the guardian. While it may seem like a no-brainer to pick grandparents, this may not be the best decision if they are much older and in generally poor health. This may be especially true if you have more than one child, as the demands of raising an entire family can be challenging.
The most important thing to consider when nominating a guardian for your child is your child’s well-being. While it’s important to choose someone they will be happy with, it’s just as important to pick someone you can trust and who can be responsible for caring for your child for the long term.
Trust The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen for Your Family’s Estate Planning
A family estate planning attorney like those at The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen can help prioritize what’s important to you and what you want for your children. As parents ourselves, we understand both the challenges and value of creating a solid family estate plan.
We’re here to help you create a family estate plan that helps you feel confident about your child’s future so you can focus on enjoying the present. To schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Andover, Massachusetts, call 978-494-6730 or contact us online.