Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. — Pablo Picasso
Let’s face it. Your children mean the world to you. You owe it to them to prepare a plan for their futures in case something should happen to you. This means making sure that they will receive the love, support, guidance, and necessities they need, even if you are no longer around. It also means making sure that your own affairs are in order — just in case.
Estate planning is about placing your family in the best possible position should you die or become incapacitated. Estate planning involves several core elements that every mom should know and address — a will, a financial power of attorney, and other documents needed to carry out your wishes. Our estate planning attorneys can put together a plan that is right for you and your family.
Will & Life Insurance
A will is about much more than who gets your stuff. For parents of minor children, the most important part of a will is the selection of guardians. The next most important part is the formation of a trust to manage the assets that will be used to meet your children’s needs if something happens to you. Money to meet those needs is often provided by purchasing a term life insurance policy.
Nominate a Guardian
A guardian is the person who will take care of your children if you cannot. To nominate a guardian, a properly drafted legal document is necessary. A will is the most common place to do this. Just telling someone that you pick them as your children’s guardian is not sufficient.
If you don’t take the steps to legally nominate a guardian for your children, a court will pick one for you without your input should the need arise. That person may not be the person you prefer or be the best choice for your children.
Because you know better than a court who would be best for your child, make your choice clear by having a will prepared that nominates a guardian for your children. Don’t let your children end up with the real-life equivalent to the Dursleys in the Harry Potter books.
Purchase Term Life Insurance
A guardian will look after your children if you pass away. But, where will that person get the money needed to take care of them? Your children will still need food, clothes, insurance, school supplies, money for camp, etc. It may not be easy for your chosen guardian to pay for these things.
Term life insurance is a great way to make sure that your children will receive adequate care. Term life insurance is inexpensive for young adults. A policy covering a 35 year old non-smoker providing $500,000 of coverage can be purchased for as little as $20 a month. A policy that will provide $1.5 million in coverage can be purchased for about $50 a month.
You can learn more about purchasing life insurance here.
Include a Trust for Your Children
A trust is a good tool to manage the money your life insurance policy provides for your children. Trusts are flexible and allow you to specify how those assets should be used.
A typical structure is to direct the trust to pay for your children’s necessities while they are growing up. The trust could provide pre-determined amounts to pay for college, or for a financial gift when your children marry, buy a house, or start a business. If money is left after your children are grown, the trust could distribute half of the money to your children when they turn twenty-five, and the other half at age thirty-five, for example.
The combination of a trust and term-life insurance goes a long way toward making sure your wishes for your children’s care are fulfilled.
Financial Power of Attorney & Disability Insurance
Wills and trusts created under wills are excellent tools to plan for your family’s security if you pass away. But what if you become incapacitated or disabled by an accident or illness? How will your family’s bills get paid? Who will manage your financial affairs? To prepare for these possibilities, you need a financial power of attorney and should consider purchasing long-term disability insurance to help you maintain your family’s standard of living.
Purchase Long-Term Disability Insurance
Long-term disability insurance generally pays 60% of your wages if you become disabled. The payments last until your disability ends or your turn 65. If you become disabled for an extended period of time, long-term disability insurance ensures that you and your family have the money that you need.
Many employers offer long-term disability insurance coverage as part of their employee benefits package. Ask your employer if a plan is available to cover you. You can also purchase additional coverage on the private market. When deciding the amount of long-term disability coverage you need, consider how much money you need to make ends meet, the coverage options available, and how much your budget will allow.
You can learn more about purchasing disability insurance here.
Financial Power of Attorney
If you become incapacitated, you will need someone to take care of your bills and finances while you cannot. That person needs the legal authority to act on your behalf. Without legal authority, banks, insurers, the government, and other persons you deal with may refuse to work with your chosen representative. If that happens, your bills and taxes cannot be paid, and other necessary financial decisions cannot be made.
A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives your chosen representative the legal authority to act on your behalf. It ensures that your financial affairs can be managed effectively if you are incapacitated. <em>Without a financial power of attorney, expensive court proceedings may be required to gain authority.</em>
Your attorney can prepare a financial power of attorney as part of your estate planning package.
The core of your estate plan is now complete, but you will need several other documents to complete your plan. These include a medical power of attorney, appointment of guardian, advance directive, and final disposition authorization and instructions.
Medical Power of Attorney
If you become incapacitated, medical decisions will still need to be made. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to specify who should make those decisions. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, Texas statutes dictate who has authority to make medical decisions for you. That person may or may not be the person that you would want to make these decisions.
Appointment of Guardian
There are times when an adult may become incapable of managing their affairs for an extended period of time. While a Financial Power of Attorney is the first line of defense for this situation, there are times when the appointment of a guardian is more appropriate. Similar to selecting a potential guardian for your children, you should select a potential guardian for yourself should the need arise.
An Advance Directive indicates whether you want life-sustaining treatment if you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition and cannot communicate your preferences. If you have strong preferences about whether you would want life-sustaining treatment if you become incapacitated with a terminal or irreversible condition, you need to make your preferences known through an Advance Directive.
Final Disposition Authorization and Instructions
If you should die, you will want your loved ones to know how to proceed. A Final Disposition Authorization and Instructions names your personal representative to take charge of your remains and indicates your wishes with respect to cremation or burial, where you want your remains interred, and whether you have made pre-need arrangements.
With all of these elements in place, you can rest assured that your children will be cared for, your financial affairs are in order, and your wishes are known.
Contact the Law Office of Brandon S. Glosson
The Law Office of Brandon S. Glosson can assist you with your estate planning needs. Our most popular estate planning package contains the following legal documents:
- Will with appointment of guardians and trusts for minor children
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Appointment of Guardian
- Advance Directive
- Final Disposition Authorization and Instructions
We also craft more advanced plans to satisfy our clients’ unique needs. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (210) 802-5288.