Estate Planning Checklist for New Parents
Have you just welcomed a new child to the family? You, as a parent, want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your children. So what legal documents do you need in place to make sure your family is secure and protected? I’ll detail the top four you’ll need to consider.
I’m not just talking about a Last Will & Testament. There are multiple things you ought to have in place once you welcome a new member to your family. I’ll detail the four documents you must have in place to prepare your family if the unthinkable were to happen.
As an attorney board certified in both tax law and in estate planning and probate law, I’ve guided hundreds of families through the maze of estate planning, probate, and tax law to help them leave no unfinished business. I’ve also seen the tragic consequences of not having some or all of these documents in place.
I often use the analogy that a solid estate plan will protect you from the Four Horsemen of the Estate planning Apocalypse loss of future assets, future costs, family frustration, and future fights. The documents I’ll talk about serve as your armor against these four enemies in the case of your death, injury, or incapacitation.
Last Will & Testament
The first and most obvious is the one you were probably thinking about; having a Last Will and Testament means that people will know who gets your stuff when you die. You don’t need to have manicured lawns and seven Porsches for this to be a crucial part of your plan. Not having a will in place only increases the time costs and frustration that will happen if you die.
Document number two is just a simple list of all your assets. Think about this: if something were to happen to you right now, would anybody else know what you own and where you own it? So what we want you to do is get out a pad and paper and just write down what do you own and where do you own it.
This will help people find things if you can’t be there to tell them where to.
Declaration of Guardianship
Document number three is a declaration of guardians for your minor children. If you’re not here to care for your children, you need to decide who should take care of your children, both whom they should live with and who should be in charge of the assets that you’ll leave for them.
Texas law also gives you the option to exclude specific people from serving as guardian of your minor children. Just in case there’s anybody who may want to be involved, that you don’t think is appropriate for your children.
The fourth document to have in place is some sort of testamentary trust to benefit your minor children. Children under the age of 18 aren’t legally allowed to own anything. So if you don’t have some sort of structure, typically a trust in your last will that will own assets for their benefit, then you’re going to have to deal with guardianship process. This can cost tens of thousands of dollars over the time that your child is a minor to manage the assets for their benefit.
By having this trust in place before it’s needed, you’re able to avoid that cost and still benefit your children with the assets that you’ll leave to them.
So these are the first four planning documents you’ll wanna get in place. Everybody’s situation is different and you’ll need to tailor what you’re doing and how you have this set up for your particular situation.
Schedule a free consultation with Strohmeyer Law to protect your family with an estate plan.
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