Parents should make plans for minor children.
You are a parent.
Maybe you have been a parent for years and have several children.
Perhaps you are a new parent who recently welcomed your first child.
Parenthood is exciting, rewarding, and fun.
It is also a significant responsibility to protect and care for your children.
According to a recent Choteau (MT) Acantha article titled “Plan for children’s future when making out a will,” this includes making plans for your minor children as part of your estate planning.
How do you do this?
Start by updating or creating a last will and testament to nominate a guardian for your children.
What does this accomplish?
The person (or persons) you nominate becomes the legal guardian – “backup parent” – of your minor children until they reach adulthood.
This gives the guardian the responsibility and authority of a parent.
These responsibilities include making decisions over the education, health care, and general well-being of the children.
In addition to a guardianship, you should designate a conservator.
The conservator can be the same person as the guardian, but need not be.
What is the role of a conservator?
The conservator manages the financial inheritance on behalf of the child until the child reaches age 18.
Choosing a guardian or a conservator for minor children is never simple.
You will want to select someone with similar values and beliefs on child rearing.
If your children are older, it may be wise to discuss your choice of guardian and the reasoning behind it.
This is especially important if the state has a law allowing children of a certain age to request a different guardian to be appointed by the court.
In addition to discussing your wishes with your children, you should also select backup conservators and guardians.
This is important if the original party selected for each role is unable to fulfill the role.
Another choice you need to consider is whether you would like your children to receive their full inheritance at age 18.
Many young adults are incapable of managing large sums of money responsibly.
What can you do to provide greater control?
You can create a trust to hold your assets when you die.
The trustee you appoint to administer the trust will manage the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries and make distributions according to your instructions.
As you navigate what is best for your minor children, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you better understand your options and create a plan to meet your unique needs.
Reference: Choteau (MT) Acantha (May 13, 2020) “Plan for children’s future when making out a will”