Attention new parents, you need a guardian for your children…

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Estate planning is not just for older folks.   In fact, one of the best aspects of estate planning for young parents is to name a guardian for your minor children.  Let’s say you have two young children, ages 4 and 8.

If something were to happen to you and your spouse, who would take care of your children?  You may or may not know.  You may assume certain people would do that for you, but how do you know they would want to take the responsibility of raising your children?  Unfortunately you don’t know that for sure.  Another problem:  What if you don’t have the best relationship with your in-laws and your spouse wants them to be guardians if you were gone?

There’s one way to solve this problem.  You can plan for the worst and name guardians in your wills.  This is a major benefit of young parents having wills.  It’s not just about what happens to your stuff if you pass away.  For young couples, it provides a clear indication of who you want to be guardians for your children if you pass away while they are minors.  It also forces you to check and make sure you are on the same page with your spouse, who might have a different set of people in mind to handle the job.

It’s a conversation that you must have if you are a parent of minor children.  Imagine the tragedy for your children of losing their parents but then having to endure a guardianship fight in the court.  Because if you haven’t legally planned for guardianship, anyone can file a petition seeking the job and seeking approval from the court.

Now, one of the issues that I see with younger parents is that they don’t make estate planning a priority, usually because of the cost.  Ideally, estate planning covers all the bases.  Wills for guardianship and distribution and control of your estate, powers of attorney in case you become disabled or incapacitated are all part of the entire plan.  It’s obviously wise to have the entire plan, but you don’t have to do that right away if money is a concern.

The answer then is to talk to the young parents in your life about getting their wills made out, with clear choices for guardians.  It will give them peace of mind and will be affordable at the same time.