“Many people think estate planning means deciding what happens to your things when you die. For that reason, many young families do not consider estate planning to be a priority. However, it may be one of the most important things that young parents can do!”
A will or last will and testament is the document in which parents can name who they want to assume care of their children if they should both die, as well as who should manage the money available to care for those children.
Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “What's missing from your estate plan?” advises that it’s not wise to assume that the same people should perform both of these tasks. Separating the people who care for your kids from those with free access to the money left behind, is often a very smart choice. If the parents’ estate plans don’t include instructions concerning the children, those left behind can have drastically different opinions about where the children should live and how they should be cared for.
When families feel strongly about those issues it also creates difficulties for the children. They’re not only mourning the loss of the parents, but now their loved ones may be at each other’s throats, in a legal attempt to gain custody that will drain resources and divide the family. However, there are some simple steps that can avoid this additional cost and emotional trauma.
Don’t leave a hole in your estate plan by omitting a document that addresses what happens to you, if you become incapacitated. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is an essential component of a complete estate plan. This document answers "end of life" questions, particularly whether a person should be kept alive by artificial means. Most of us don’t want our families making those difficult choices, so have your estate planning attorney draft an advance directive, so they won’t have to.
One other document an estate plan should have is a medical durable power of attorney, which concerns almost all medical decisions other than those dealing with end of life. If you haven’t signed a medical power of attorney and if you’re not near death but unable to make your own medical decisions, you put your family and your medical providers in a tough spot. However, if you have a designated an agent to make medical decisions, you can spare your family additional pain and emotional distress.
Reference: Wealth Advisor (August 27, 2018) “What's missing from your estate plan?”