Readers of this blog know that we often discuss estate planning considerations. Indeed, at the beginning of June, we discussed estate planning without children. In turn, this post will cover estate planning with children.
The stage of their life
How you estate plan for your children depends on their stage of life. For example, a special needs child may need financial support for the rest of their life. A minor child will have different financial needs than one about to go to college. This is why estate planning for children is fluid, and updating your estate plan periodically is needed.
Do not forget about you
One thing that some parents forget is that, should you need long-term care or hurt yourself in an accident permanently, your plans for your children may be impacted. This is why long-term car insurance can be a useful estate planning tool for those with children. This is in addition to a 529 plan, Uniform Gifts to Minors Act or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account. These allow you to deposit funds while you are alive and can be used strategically to reduce your taxable estate to help your kids get an education.
For minor children, while planning for their financial future, you will also need to designate a guardian for your children. This is the person or couple that will take over, should you and your spouse pass. If you have minor children, this is imperative, and do not forget to name backup guardians as well because life happens. And, you never know if the people you selected will take on the responsibility when the time comes.
Another useful estate planning tool for children is trusts. They can allow you to control the assets while you are alive, and still exert control after death. Trusts communicate how you want the money spent and managed and how or when funds should be distributed or withheld. Trusts can be entirely third-party controlled, or at some point, vest to your children when they reach a certain age.
What we learned
For our readers, this post is a primer on the topic. In other posts, we will explore more detailed options. After all, no two individuals’ needs and goals are the same, so no estate plans are the same, which means you need to know your options.