Becoming a parent is frequently the reason why people choose to create estate plans. They worry that their children will be vulnerable if anything ever happens to them, so they take action to offset some of those risks.
Whether you just learned about a pregnancy or you already have three children, you should integrate protection for your kids into your estate plan. There are several different ways that you can protect your children from hardship if something ever happens to you.
You can choose a guardian for them
Selecting a guardian is one of the most important ways for a parent to protect their children when they die. Choosing someone capable of meeting your children’s needs and discussing that decision with them now means that your children have someone they can rely on if something tragic ever happens to you. Your will is a place to name not just a guardian but even an alternate candidate in case the person you select isn’t available to fulfill those responsibilities when the time comes.
You can name your children as primary or secondary beneficiaries
Including your children as recipients for a life insurance policy or naming them as the recipient for an account with a transfer-on-death designation can ensure that some resources will go to your children when you die.
Often, spouses will receive the vast majority of these resources without advance planning. Especially in a blended family where your spouse is not the other parent of your children, naming them as specific accounts or insurance beneficiaries can be a smart decision.
You can create a trust to protect them and their inheritance
Naming your children as beneficiaries can be a good decision, but then their guardian will be the one who has control over those assets until your children turn 18.
It is easy to see the problem with this approach, especially if you no longer have a good relationship with the other parent of your children. Moving the inheritance you want your children to receive into a trust protects it from malfeasance by their guardian while they are still young and limits what they can use those resources for once they are old enough to inherit those assets.
Thinking about the future you want for your children can help you protect them when you create or update your estate plan.