If you ask most young couples whether or not they have an estate plan, living will, or guardian for their children, too often the answer is “no.” Thinking about death can be seen as morbid – plus, why should someone in their 20s or 30s bother making such uncomfortable decisions? The reality is, no matter your age, having an estate plan is critical for you, your partner, your children, and the rest of your family.
Contrary to what some may think, these aren’t issues for older couples. Couples and families at any stage in life should strongly consider estate planning as a top priority. Ensuring your family is secure in case of an emergency or a major life event is a silent gift that may take some time to plan effectively, but in the end is worth the effort. Families without these assurances in place could worsen an already heartbreaking experience with the additional stress of legal issues.
Questions You Should be Asking
Who will care for the kids?
While you may have chosen a godparent after birth, ensuring you have a guardian in writing is a legal document that can identify who will obtain rights to raise your child(ren) in a series of given circumstances such as incapacitation or death. Without this – grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles may find themselves in a family dispute that could have been avoided.
Who will I leave my possessions to?
With proper estate planning, family members don’t have to fight about who gets what because your wishes are already clearly stated. If you have items of substantial value like jewelry, art, memorabilia, or collectibles, you may wish to leave those items with someone in particular. For example, in the event of your passing, your mother would like your wedding ring because the diamond once belonged to your grandmother. However, your mother-in-law wishes for your child to inherit it to possibly pass it down one day when they get married. With proper planning, you can save your family from added turmoil.
Who will manage my estate?
After you’ve planned your estate, someone must be designated to manage it. There will be numerous responsibilities including paying debts, closing baking accounts, and administering the will itself. In the event a person dies and has not appointed a personal representative, the court must appoint one. This may or may not be who the decedent would have chosen and can lead to additional cost and delays in administering the estate.
What if I am hospitalized and can’t make decisions for myself?
An advanced directive, or power of attorney, is a legal document that can establish who can make decisions for you, if you can’t make them for yourself. For example, if you are involved in a car accident and are put on life support, who would you want to be in charge of your medical care?
While these are difficult conversations to have, they shouldn’t be avoided. Young couples should be having these discussions and making arrangements for their future. Granted, perhaps this isn’t necessarily the first talk you wish to have after coming home from your honeymoon, but it shouldn’t be put off indefinitely or thought of as an issue for older couples.
At Wagstaff, our family law experts have a wealth of experience in estate planning – for families at any age and any stage of life. Give us a call today to get started!