If there is anything absolute in life or in the law, it is this statement:
If you have minor children, you must have an estate plan.
There are many reasons why this is true, but they begin and end with understanding what would happen if you did not come home one night.
Children are not legally, emotionally, or financially able to take care of themselves in our society. That means that it will be up to someone to take of them if you are no longer able to – even if you are not able to only for a short time.
Without you, your children have no access to your family's property or financial resources – no one with the legal authority to speak for them, take care of them, enroll them in school, or see to their medical needs. This void will eventually be filled, but unless you have made an estate plan, there is no way to know who, when, or where this will happen.
Even if a relative or close friend steps up to look after your children, unless you have a plan in place which nominates that person as the guardian, there is a likelihood that the guardianship proceeding may be contested by someone else, may take longer than necessary, and may cost far more than it otherwise would have.
Assuming you have assets that will pass to your children, all of those assets will most likely need to pass through a court-supervised probate proceeding before they are given to your child's new guardian. Unfortunately, the probate process is completely public, and anyone can find out exactly how much money and property your children will inherit, and exactly when that will take place.
All of this can be avoided with a proper estate plan in place.
For most of us, our children are among the most precious parts of our lives. A simple plan can spare them a great deal of trouble if they suddenly find themselves without you.
If you are interested in the estate planning services of Lopez & Wilmert, LLP, with our unique approach to plan design and maintenance, please feel free to contact us at 619-589-1112 to schedule a complimentary consultation.