This holiday season you will spend countless hours shopping for gifts, making cookies, sending out cards, and maybe even hiding the “elf on the shelf.” You do all this in an effort to make it a wonderful and special time for your children. They are the most important people in your life and you plan to be there for them always— watching them grow into adults, sending them off into the world, and then meeting your grandchildren. However, life is uncertain, and while it is not pleasant to think about, you should take steps to ensure that your children will be protected, in the event something unforeseen happens to you before they are grown.
I understand that many parents with young children, like myself, have limited time and resources, and therefore, estate planning is often last on the unending “to-do list”. However, without an estate plan in place, if something happens to you, your wishes and intentions for their care and maintenance will be unknown, and undocumented.
Here are a few Important tips for consideration:
1. Plan ahead
Perhaps you finally reached the milestone where you and your spouse are ready for your second honeymoon—a vacation with no kids in sight! You’ve booked your flight, packed your sunblock, and left a thousand pages of instructions for the babysitter—then the panic sets in.
“What if something happens to us on vacation?” I’ve received this call before and believe me, it is not the ideal time to get your estate plan in order. You should consult with an attorney and there will be many decisions to make and discuss. The process should not be rushed and will take some time to finalize.
2. Think carefully about your nominations
Who would you want to care for your children? This is one of the most difficult decisions that you will ever make. You will never find the perfect person to care for your children, but it is important to make your wishes known. In deciding who to nominate, you should think about the following:
Who will be caring for them? Are they healthy enough and willing to assume the responsibility until your children are adults?
Where will they live and who else will be in the household? Will they be near other relatives and support?
Who will be making important health and education decisions? Do they share your values?
Who will manage the money that you leave for your children? At what point and under what circumstances will you want your children to assume financial responsibility for themselves?
Who would take over if those you nominated could no longer care for your children?
3. Review and refresh your estate plan as needed
As life goes on, the family dynamic may change—births, deaths, marriage, divorce, disability—just to name a few. These pertain to occurrences in your own immediate family, or to those you have nominated in your family estate plan. While life changes don’t always necessitate a change to your documents, it is important to consider the consequences.
I know that estate planning is not a cheerful topic, but you should talk with your spouse about putting it on your “to-do” list. Once the hectic nature of the holidays is over, make a resolution in 2016 to make your family estate plan a priority. It is one of the most important things you can do for your family, and for your own peace of mind.
Take the first step and contact us to request a free estate planning workbook or join attorneys Pam Crohan and Kathy McNair on Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 at the Braintree Library, 695 Washington Street, Braintree, MA at 6:30pm to learn more about "Estate Plannning for Young Families." If you would like to join us on March 1st, please let us know by registering here.
We strive to make the process as efficient as possible, since we know that your time is precious. In addition to private meetings, we also offer “will signing” parties. This is a fun way for you to gather a group of friends that have also been putting off estate planning and turn it into a positive experience. Send us an email (email@example.com) or give us a call at 617-489-5900 to make sure that this year you finally cross estate planning off your list.
Senior Solutions is an Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm with two locations in Belmont and Hingham, Massachusetts. We server the Greater Boston and South Shore of Massachusetts.