Far too many people put off estate planning until they have to confront a reminder of their own mortality. Whether it is the death of a parent or a major medical event, it can take dramatic life experiences to inspire most people to plan for the end of their life. Some people end up waiting too long and actually die without having a last will in place.
If you have children, you do not have the luxury of delaying this critical planning. The safety of your children, as well as their financial future, depends on your ability to plan for a worst-case scenario and keep them safe. The sooner you tackle important estate planning concerns, the more secure your family will be.
If you don’t name a guardian, your kids could end up in foster care
Many people wrongfully assume that if they die without a last will and an estate plan that names a guardian for their children, their family can simply start taking care of the kids. The truth is that the courts will need to review and approve just about any custody situation to ensure it is in the best interest of the children involved.
Illinois does its best to keep children with family members. However, the family member you are closest to may not be someone the courts would choose as first placement option in the event of your death. Taking the time to name someone specifically as guardian can help ensure that your children get raised by the person you most trust for that critical role. It can also reduce the risk of your kids going into foster care because no one will step up to care for them.
Estate planning offers your children financial stability
Estate planning involves many different steps, including the creation of a living will and a last will. Many people also take special steps to limit the tax obligations and reduce the risk of protracted probate court issues. Creating trusts and similar documents can help ensure that there is minimal tax liability for your estate.
Trusts can also help ensure that your children will still have financial resources available when they become adults. Simply leaving all of your assets to your children could result in their guardians or caretakers spending most or all of those assets before your children can access it. A trust lets you place limits on how much gets withdrawn and what expenses those funds can cover.
While we all hope to live long lives and see our children progress through the stages of maturing into adulthood, not everyone gets that privilege. Planning for a worst-case scenario can provide you with peace of mind and ensure that your family members are protected and cared for if something ever happens to you.