Having kids is a life-changer. Gone are the days of sleeping in and spontaneous outings. Having a family comes with a new perspective on life and requires an enormous amount of your time to fulfill your family’s everyday needs. But what would happen to your kids if you, your spouse or both of you became incapacitated or died suddenly?
While it is hard to think about, you must consider how you can ensure your child’s daily care and medical needs will be met to your standards if you are unable to be there for them. Not to mention the management of your assets and important future decisions that will greatly affect your child’s life. You must make time now for what could very well be one of the most important things you do for your family by planning your estate.
Being a parent is making sure your children’s happiness and well-being are nurtured and that must include a comprehensive estate plan, should you be unable to care for there for them. Contact a trusted estate planning attorney in Utah for your free, confidential consultation to learn how you can ensure your family is taken care of in the event of unforeseen life-changing circumstances.
How Can an Estate Plan Protect My Children?
A professionally-prepared estate plan will address general issues about your property and assets. It will also encompass very personal issues including medical directives, end of life wishes, and most importantly, name the individual(s) you trust to take care of your children and manage their inheritance.
To be thorough, you will also want to identify what you DO NOT want in your estate plan. If it is important to you, include the names of relatives you DO NOT want to become the guardian of your kids and name any individual(s) you DO NOT want to be in control of your property and assets.
A well-crafted estate plan will be comprised of your Last Will and Testament naming beneficiaries, a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Directive for your Health Care choices in the event of incapacitation. A professionally-prepared personalized family estate plan will also include the following:
- Guardian Nomination
- Trustee or Conservator Appointment
- Custodial Account or Living Trust
- Letters of Instruction
Nominate a Guardian
Estate planning for families in Utah should begin with the question, ‘what would happen to the children if we died tomorrow?’ The answer to this question will always include court proceedings for the person you nominate to become a guardian to your children. The sibling, parent, other relative or friend chosen to care for the kids must obtain legal guardianship or adopt them in order to manage their care, make important decisions and provide for their well-being.
Your guardian nomination is often included in a Living Trust or Last Will and Testament, it can be also be filed as a separate document. The court will honor your wishes by appointing the nominee as the guardian of your children, as long as they qualify. However, before the court will enter an order of appointment, a guardian or conservator nominee is required qualify by taking a written test and filing a certificate of completion with the court according to Rule 6-501.
Appoint a Trustee or Conservator
Your property and assets will need to be distributed using a probate-avoidance device like a trust fund that will restrict access until the children reach age 18. A court-appointed guardian, trustee or conservator of your choosing (if they qualify) will manage the trust in the meantime. The main goal for parents is to ensure the estate is responsibly distributed to benefit your children. Listed here are the two most commonly used options include a Custodial Account and a Living Trust:
- Custodial Account – a financial account with a designated custodian (sometimes the guardian) as the manager responsible for the distribution of funds. A Custodial Account will only last until the children reach the age of majority, which is 18 years old in The Beehive State.
- Living Trust – a trustee is appointed to distribute funds to provide the best care for your child. More flexible than a Custodial Account, a Living Trust can be used to allot funds for certain life events like buying a car, going to college, getting married or buying a house.
Letters of Instruction
Now, because things don’t always go as planned, it is a good idea to include instructions for what you do want and what you do not want to happen in the event of your death. If you don’t put it in writing, issues that you consider important may be left up to chance. I recommend a separate Letter of Instruction for the children’s elected guardian, a digital representative and the individual in control of your estate – the trustee.
A Guardian Letter of Instruction can include instructions for issues that are important to you including fundamental personal values and religious beliefs and any concerns you have about your child’s daily care. You can leave instructions for more specific things like where you’d like your child to go to school, or if you’d like them to remain in their current school or school district.
Don’t forget take the time to thank your child’s guardian in your Letter of Instruction. Try to remember that while your kids will be dealing with huge life changes, their new guardian and their family will be making big adjustments too.
Contact an Experienced Utah-Based Family Estate Planning Attorney
An estate plan customized to your family’s circumstances will provide you with a sense of security knowing your goals are identified and your wishes will be carried out. Experienced attorney, Eric Froisland has been working with Utah families to establish customized estate plans for over 15 years. Choosing the best options for you and your family is a complicated process, Eric will walk you through each step to ensure a rock-solid estate plan to extend the benefits and care you want for your family. Call Froisland Law at 801-290-2130 to schedule your confidential, no-obligation consultation at no cost.