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Being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life. However, Like most parents, you are probably concerned about what will happen to your children should you pass away or become incapacitated. Creating an estate plan to name guardians and appoint someone to manage your children's inheritance can give you peace of mind and protect your children's interests. Our estate planning attorneys at Giro & Associates, LLC understand how important these issues are and can help you understand how to make informed decisions that benefit your kids.
It doesn't matter how old you are—if you have children under the age of 18, it's critical to name legally appointed guardians for them. Otherwise, a probate judge or other court may make these decisions, which can be harmful to your children and your family. You know your children and their specific needs best. Proper estate planning can help ensure your children are well taken care of and make a difficult time easier for everyone.
Whether you're married, divorced, or unmarried and co-parenting with your children's other parent, they will retain custody of your children, barring any issues that could make them unfit. However, it is still a good idea to address who should be named guardian if both parents pass away. It's critical to have a serious discussion with your spouse or your child's parent and agree on who to select as a guardian.
When choosing a guardian, you want to select someone who:
Other things to consider include the location where your children will live, which schools they will attend, and whether you want to appoint both individuals in a married couple as guardians. Your children will already be going through a tough time, so it's vital to think about how to make this transition easier. Although your children's guardian doesn't need to be wealthy, it's also important to keep financial stability in mind and plan how your kids' expenses will be covered.
Discuss these issues with potential guardians before naming them in your estate plan. The last thing you want is for a trusted loved one to be unaware of their potential guardianship and be blindsided in the event of your passing. If you're unsure who to choose, our experienced estate planning lawyers in Hackensack can provide an objective perspective to help you make the right decision for your family.
The person or institution who manages your children's inheritance plays an invaluable role in their lives. Fiduciaries are held to high legal standards and must always keep your children's best interests in mind. Choosing a fiduciary can be tricky. For example, if you're divorced or were never married, would you want your child's parent to manage their inheritance? It's important to ask yourself the same question about any guardians you name as well. Although it does work in some circumstances, sometimes it's best to separate these responsibilities.
One of the best ways to ensure your children's assets are protected is to create a trust while you're still alive. A living trust is a legal entity that enables you to name trustees or co-trustees to manage the assets in it. These assets can include cash, investments, property, or anything of monetary value. A living trust is revocable, which means you, as the trustor, can put assets in and take them out at any time. A trustee has a legal obligation to manage these assets according to the best interests of any beneficiaries of the trust and requires the trustee to account for how the money is spent every year.
Whether you decide to use a living trust or put someone directly in charge of your children's inheritance, it's vital to name someone you can depend on. Some options for this purpose include:
You can also give your kids the best of both worlds by appointing a loved one and a professional fiduciary to manage their inheritance. This can help reduce family conflict, and the professional handles issues like taxes, accounting, investments and legal matters.
Regardless of how you structure guardianship and fiduciary responsibilities for your children in your estate plan, our knowledgeable will and trust attorneys always keep their best interests at the forefront.
Making sure your minor children are well taken care of is just one piece of the estate planning puzzle. Our team of experienced estate planning lawyers, probate attorneys, and family law attorneys provides exceptional legal representation and services you can trust. To schedule a consultation, contact us today. We're proud to serve clients in Hackensack, New Jersey, and surrounding areas.
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