New parents have a lot on their plates, so it’s understandable that estate planning is not always at the top of their lists. For those who want to ensure that their children will have the best lives possible no matter what happens to them, it should be. Thankfully, estate planning doesn’t take as much time, money, or hassle as the uninitiated may think. Read on to find out about three things all new parents should know about estate planning to find out how to get started.
Estate Planning Is the Only Way to Ensure that Children Are Provided For
When a parent dies without a will in Oklahoma, his or her estate will be considered intestate. This means that the state will have the final say regarding how the decedent’s assets are distributed. As a general rule, assets are distributed according to blood relation, which means that children are almost always awarded some of the deceased parent’s assets upon his or her death.
Spouses and other blood relations will also be awarded some of the decedent’s assets and since these potential heirs are typically adults, while children are too young to advocate for themselves, they may be able to sway the opinion of the court. The only way for new parents to ensure that their children will get 100% of the assets to which they are entitled is to contact an estate planning lawyer for help drawing up a legal will. Kania Law Office can help.
Living Documents Are Essential for New Parents
Just like a parent on an airplane would put on an oxygen mask before placing one on his or her child, setting up living documents such as a living will and power of attorney helps to secure the physical and financial health of the child indirectly. Having a living will allows parents to designate healthcare proxies, which means that they can choose who will make medical decisions on their behalf if they become mentally incapacitated, while power of attorney gives broader legal authority to a designated agent. Both forms of living documents can help to protect parents’ physical and financial health in the event of an accident or serious illness, which can help to ensure that they will be around to provide for their children.
Parents Should Assign Guardians and Trustees
If a parent passes away while his or her child is still a minor, the child will still require ongoing care. Parents can request the help of an estate planner to assign guardians and trustees, both of whom will be responsible for providing for the child’s needs in different ways.
A legal guardian will be assigned custody of minor children, while a trustee will be assigned the responsibility for taking care of minor children’s assets until they come of age. Some parents prefer to name the same person as guardian and trustee, while others feel that having two separate adults fulfill these rolls will provide surviving children with a more balanced upbringing. An estate planner can better explain the benefits and downfalls of each option.
The Bottom Line
No new parent wants to think about what would happen to the child in the event of his or her death. Ignoring the potential problem won’t make it go away, though. It’s better to make plans now to minimize damage to the child’s future and potential should the worst happen. New parents should get in touch with an estate planner as soon as possible after they bring their children home from the hospital.