While it is important for everyone to have an estate plan in place, it should be a top priority for those just starting a family. And it is never too late to start! New parents may believe they are too young and healthy for estate planning, or that their assets are not substantial enough to justify such planning. However, the most important part of an estate plan when young children are involved is that parents have the opportunity to name a guardian for their children.
The guardian is the person or people who will care for a child in the event both parents pass away before the child reaches the age of 18 years. In the event your child needs a guardian and you have not appointed one in your Will, the Court will appoint a guardian for your child without your guidance. Your estate plan is your opportunity to direct who is responsible for your child, whatever your reason.
Another reason it is important to establish an estate plan while you have young children, is because minors cannot inherit property directly. The Court will appoint a conservator for your child, who will be in charge of the assets left for your children until the child reaches the age of 18 years, at which time the entire inheritance would be distributed outright to the child. In your estate plan, you can determine where you would like your assets to go after your death, who is in charge of administering the estate, and when your children will receive their inheritance. If you do not want your children to receive their entire inheritance outright at the age of 18, you may implement a trust in which you direct when your children will receive their inheritance.
Having an estate plan in place helps protect the interests of your children in the event you are no longer able to do so yourself. It is also your opportunity to express your wishes with regard to the care and support of your children in the event of your passing. The process however also affords you the benefit of peace of mind that whatever might happen, there is a plan in place to care for your children.