Most people don’t want to think about their own demise. For parents with young children it can be emotionally draining to think about your kids growing up without you. However, it is important to plan who will take care of your children if you pass away unexpectedly, especially if you are a single parent. Even if you are married and your spouse is able to care for your children, you need a will in the event you both pass away at the same time and to ensure all your assets are passed on appropriately.
What Happens If I Die Without A Will?
If you die without a will the state will use the rules of intestacy to determine how your assets are divided. Also, if your spouse has also died or you are a single parent, the court will determine who will raise your children. These are very scary things to think about. That is why it is important to prepare a will that addresses these issues. Depending on the complexity of your estate you may also need other items such as a trust.
What Should I Put In My Will?
The first item that a will should address is who will care for your children. Your will should first state that your spouse shall have sole custody if you pass away and then name a guardian if both you and your spouse are dead or if you are a single parent. It is important to think carefully about who to name as the guardian of your children. The person you choose should be physically and emotionally able to handle raising your children and your children should have some form of connection to him or her. It is also wise to name an alternative guardian if the first choice is no longer available. It is best to talk to the people you are thinking of naming to ensure they are willing to accept the responsibility
The second item that your will should address is how to dispose of your assets. Your will should first state that all your assets shall be given to your spouse if he or she is living. In some states if you die without a will, your assets are split between your spouse and your children. Your spouse then has to involve the court to spend the children’s assets before they reach 18. Your will should then name a custodian of your assets if you and your spouse are both dead or if you are a single parent. The custodian does not have to be the same person as the guardian. Some people think it is easier to have the guardian also be the custodian so he or she can use your assets to pay for your children’s expenses. However, others prefer to have a separate custodian especially if the guardian is not good with money. The drawback to this arrangement is that the guardian will have to seek the approval of the custodian to use the funds, which can be a hassle. Your will should also designate at what age you wish your children to have control of their inheritance. The default rule is 18 but most teenagers are not mature enough to handle a sizeable inheritance. A better rule of thumb is 25 but every situation is different.
Please contact us at 702-522-0696 to discuss your estate planning needs, especially if you have young children. We can help you prepare simple documents that will give you peace of mind about your family’s future if you pass away.