As we head into the Christmas season, it’s easy to feel hopeful and happy about the world. The holiday season is a happy and positive time of year. Most of us spend the season only hoping for the best for everyone around us. Unfortunately, life isn’t always accommodating, and our hopes and dreams are dashed. As we come together to spend the holiday season together, it’s a great time to give thanks for all we have. It is also a great time to finalize an estate plan to protect our assets and our loved ones. In 2020, statistics showed that more than 65% of Americans did not have anything written or started for end-of-life financial planning.
After all, a will and estate plan are your legal end-of-life financial plan. This holiday season is the perfect time to begin putting your last hopes and wishes into a lasting legal plan. It’s obvious by reviewing the high numbers of Americans without an estate plan that most people do not want to think about these heavy issues. You would think that the holiday season is the worst time to have this conversation, but the opposite is true. When a family gets together during the holiday season, it’s a great time to help support one another and discuss these difficult topics and encourage at-risk family members and families with minor children to consider putting together an end-of-life document to protect their assets and loved ones.
What Families Need From an Estate Plan
Parents of minor children need an estate plan maybe more than any other group. An estate plan is more than a will. It’s a compilation of legal documents that include guidelines on everything from asset distribution to custody issues of minor children. Parents in their working years have assets and liabilities. During the working years, parents paying a mortgage toward eventual homeownership typically have term life insurance to cover large expenses that would otherwise envelope the finances of their partner.
A will should also be part of this smart financial planning. By foregoing a will or estate plan, families risk wasting considerable resources and time on court and state system fees and regulations. Families need to protect children, assets, and real property from taxes and fees that can be incurred from a failure to plan for the inevitable property transfer that happens at death.
Families can use a legal document like a will or estate plan to address special concerns, like:
- Life Insurance Beneficiaries: Parents of minor children may be tempted to make their children a secondary beneficiary on the life insurance policies. Unfortunately, minors cannot serve in this role. To leave the proceeds of a life insurance policy to a minor child could result in legal woes and valuable funds used to fix the error. An estate plan could be used to solve this problem. A trust can be used as a beneficiary in the place of minor children.
- Parental Death: Families with minor children need an estate plan for worst-case scenarios. No one thinks about both parents dying, but when it happens, the worst moment in a family’s existence is followed by chaos. No one knows what the parents wanted and who should have custody of their minor children. An estate plan ultimately helps families clarify what will happen and how minors will be provided for and what will happen to assets and real property. An estate plan can help keep a terrible day from turning into a worse and even more complicated situation for loved ones left behind when there isn’t a will or estate plan left behind.
- POAs & Guardianships: As mentioned in the previous point, parents have a responsibility to secure a future beyond themselves for their minor children. If both parents were to die in the same incident, minor children should have questions of guardianship clearly outlined. A power of attorney (POA) also provides clarity for families for instances where parents are not deceased in an incident but are incapacitated. A POA or guardianship can both give minor beneficiaries legal protections and a named custodian for their assets until they reach adulthood.
May, Rammell, and Wells Estate Planning Attorneys
At May, Rammell, and Wells, we help families make end-of-life financial plans that protect minors when parents are taken early before they can reach adulthood. The holiday season is a happy time, but there are also many accidents and deaths during this time of year from travel and illness. A will or overarching estate plan can help mitigate worry and give families the security of knowing they are protected should the worst happen. Contact the Idaho estate planning attorneys at May, Rammell, and Wells. We can listen to your needs and create an estate plan that accomplishes your goals. Call us today at (208) 623-8021 to schedule a consultation.