How To Protect Your Children After You Die
Mothers and fathers have no greater duty than to protect the lives of their children. As members of loving families and communities, we embrace that sacred responsibility with every rising sun, every breath we take. But your willing task of raising a child in a safe, secure environment comes to an end when you pass. From the moment you are no longer able to nurture and safeguard your precious child, their future is unsure.
That’s why everyday parents look to estate planning lawyers to ensure their child will receive only the best possible upbringing in the event you are no longer with us. These are the ways our team of estate planning professionals can help you protect your child.
Prevent a Stranger from Raising Your Child
It seems almost unimaginable that if a parent is struck down by illness or injury without a Will or estate plan, a stranger might be raising your child tomorrow. That unwelcome outcome occurs too often when children lose both their parents in tragedies such as automobile accidents and plane crashes.
In the absence of a legally-binding document that designates your chosen guardian, a judge would appoint someone believed to be up to the task. This might be a willing family member or court-appointed foster home if no suitable alternative can be found. Keep in mind, not everyone in your immediate and extended family shares the same values and lifestyle that you want for your child.
Select a Guardian Who Shares Your Worldview
When crafting a thorough estate plan, it’s imperative to have a substantive discussion about who will raise your child should you pass. It’s not uncommon for loving parents to think a sibling, parent, or other loved one makes perfect sense at first blush. As a law firm that works with families every day, we steadily walk parents through the process of identifying the things you want and need in a guardian so that they will continue in your child’s upbringing. These include the following.
- Financial and Emotional Stability
- Similar Personal Values
- Shared Religious Affiliations
- Shared Educational Beliefs
- Stable Lifestyle and Home Life
- Natural Ability to Provide Loving Comfort
We discuss matching those intangibles with loved ones on your shortlist of potential guardians. It’s a big decision, and we work diligently to help good people get it right. It’s essential to have a guardianship plan in place that outlines your wishes, expectations, and how your assets will benefit the minor child until they reach the age of majority.
Create a Trust Fund to Support Your Child
Caregiving and values are building blocks of a child’s maturation process. Your precious child will also require the best possible financial security while growing into adulthood. One of the most successful legal vehicles used by parents to provide for children after they pass is a Trust. Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can craft a trust that includes wealth, assets, personal items, and establishes a designated custodian to oversee the finances after you pass.
One of the reasons parents welcome this legal mechanism is that you can designate yourself as the custodian while still alive. A well-crafted trust outlines how the wealth will be disbursed to support the minor child, how it will be managed in your absence, and at what point your child gains unfettered access. This might occur at 18 years old, following college, or continue to be incrementally disbursed for many years to come. Those are your choices to make if you create a comprehensive estate plan. The alternative is your wealth being divvied up by a probate judge.
Keep Your Will & Estate Plan Current
Taking the proactive step to create a comprehensive estate plan goes a long way in protecting your child. It’s also important to clean up any loose ends.
In all likelihood, your wealth and assets will evolve over time. Those changes may require clarification in your estate planning to avoid the unnecessary litigation and expense of probate. As your child matures, caregiving and financial realities also change. You may even decide to change guardians based on your child’s age or life circumstances, among other things.
The point is that estate planning is not a sign-it-and-file-it-away process. Like the growth of your family, a secure plan addresses life’s changes promptly. That’s why our experienced staff follows up with good parents to schedule regular consultations and ensure your child is fully protected long after you are gone.
Contact a Trusted Family Lawyer in Surfside Beach, SC
If you are a parent with a minor child or one with special needs, it’s crucial to have legal protection in place in the event of a tragedy. Good parents want only the most financially and emotionally secure future for a child, and intelligent estate planning can deliver protections when you are no longer able. At Indigo Family Law, we provide determined and compassionate estate planning for our valued community members. Call our Surfside Beach, SC, offices and schedule a consultation today.