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Three Questions to Ask Yourself when Estate Planning for Your Children


All parents should have an estate plan that outlines who will raise their children and make important decisions for them in the event that they pass away. If you have not yet created an estate plan that includes plans for your children, it may be because you do not know where to start. This is a very common problem and fortunately, it is also one that is fairly easily solved. Below, one of our estate planning lawyers outlines four questions to ask yourself before starting the process.

Who Will Care for Your Children if You Cannot? 

As a parent, the most important question you should ask yourself is who will care for your children if you cannot in the future. While it may be a difficult question for parents to answer, it is the most important one to consider. If you do not name a guardian for your children in your estate plan, the court will appoint one. The court will not be able to consider your wishes, and they may also not consider the wishes of your family members.

If you do not establish a guardian, your children could end up with a family member you have not spoken to in years, or even in foster care. Instead, name someone who shares your values and who you feel will do a good job of raising your child.

How Will Your Child’s Inheritance Be Managed if You Pass Away? 

You likely want to have a say in how your child’s inheritance is managed in the event that you pass away. Most parents intend to leave their children the majority of their property when they pass away. However, minor children cannot manage their own inheritance or other assets until they turn 18 years old. For an inheritance of any size, most will agree that 18 is far too young to inherit, and a large inheritance too soon could ruin their prospects for a successful independence later.

If you do not plan for your child’s inheritance, the court will appoint someone to manage it. The court may even appoint a professional conservator, who is a stranger not attuned with your family’s needs and wishes. Also, children will receive their entire inheritance when they turn 18 years old, even if you want them to receive it in installments, if you do not have a plan.

Who is Your Child’s Emergency Contact? 

There is a chance that your child may lose both of their parents at once. Even if you establish a guardian for your child in your estate plan, it may not take effect for months after your death. It is important to determine who will care for your children in the meantime (temporary emergency guardian). If you do not plan for this event, your children could end up in foster care for a few nights until your family member can get to them.

Think about who may be able to act as your child’s emergency contact, particularly if the guardian is unavailable. Ask a friend, neighbor, or anyone else you trust if they can act as your child’s emergency contact.

All estate plans that we produce for parents of young children include an “Child Protection Kit” that includes vital documents such as powers of attorney for the children, nominations of temporary emergency guardians, and information for the guardian on the parents’ value system and how the inheritance should be used when discretion is called for.

Our Guardianship and Conservatorship Lawyers in Kennewick Can Advise on Your Case 

If you have not yet made a plan for your children in the event that you can no longer care for them, do not put it off for a moment longer. At Moulton Law Offices, P.S., our can provide the legal help you need and ensure you have a strong plan. Call us now at 509-328-2150 or contact us online to request a consultation.



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