A Concerned Parent’s Perspective
Being a parent is not only the greatest experience of a young couple’s (or person’s) life but also the most terrifying. Suddenly, there is a very small, helpless and completely dependent person in your life. It can be a wild ride from newborn to age 18 (and beyond) from trips to the zoo, amusement parks, birthday parties, school plays and sporting events to trips to the emergency room, tears over many issues, conflicts over dating and driving as well as the terrifying thought of who will care for my children if I am not here.
The last thing on this list is something that terrified me just about the time the children were old enough to be away from me for a bit, day care, school, after school care, field trips and overnight stays with friends. I never thought much about how to designate someone as guardian for the children when/if I am gone or unable to care for them. I never thought I would create a will or trust, but I did. I never thought I would need life insurance, but I bought a policy so that the children would have something when I am gone. I never thought about putting together college funds for them or for their children. No one in my family ever really had much and certainly didn’t think to have estate planning documents in order should the unthinkable happen.
Think you are too young to consider these things? Think again. If you and your spouse are in a horrible accident - what papers do you have giving anyone authority to take care of your children, your finances or make medical decisions for you? Are your wishes as to burial or cremation and where to be interred written down anywhere? If you own real property in California, that property isn’t going to pass on to your children absent either probate or having the property in a trust, including your own home.
So let’s talk about this. So many people just don’t want to think about these things. However, not making sure that you have appropriate documents in place can be, not only costly to your children (or other heirs) but it is, a terribly stressful process that takes approximately a year to resolve.
If you, or someone you know, needs help with either the estate of a family member or in preparing your own estate plan, please feel free to contact our office.