Young couples are constantly bombarded with a series of questions about getting married, buying a home, and having a baby. One incredibly important question missing from that progression is “Have you planned your estate?”
Being a new mother and an attorney, it’s my favorite question to ask new families because I know estate planning is the furthest thing from their minds. If you’re anything like me you’re probably slightly obsessed with finding new ways to wear your baby, making your own baby food, finding the best deals on Zulily and signing up for infant swim classes. Don’t forget to add in long work weeks, sleepless nights, countless hours of pumping, and diaper duty!
I find that most families neglect to discuss estate planning because they think they are too young and healthy, do not have an estate to plan, or simply cannot afford the expense. I completely understand. Now that your bundle of joy is here, who wants to think about death? Why do you need an estate plan when you have a house with a mortgage, school loan debt and life insurance with beneficiary designations? How can you afford it with the cost of raising a child nearing a quarter of a million dollars?
I have one simple answer: because accidents, illnesses, and disabilities happen. Estate planning for young families is more than just deciding what happens to your property and it does not have to be expensive. It’s imperative to discuss who will make sure your child is sheltered, clothed, fed and safe if something would happen to you and your spouse. Plus, you can start simple and update your documents as your family and estate planning needs change.
At a minimum, your estate plan should: (1) name a guardian for your children; (2) name a trustee to handle the financial affairs of minor children; (3) name an executor to handle the affairs of the estate; (4) provide instructions for distribution of assets; and (5) plan for disability. This can all be accomplished by a simple will with a testamentary trust and powers of attorney for health care and property.
Without an estate plan, a court will decide for you without knowing your wishes, children or family situation. Give your family some peace of mind, save yourself some “mommy guilt” and responsibly discuss the tough questions to create your estate plan today.
Should you have any questions or would like to discuss your estate plan, please contact Holly Marcum.