One dangerous myth about estate planning is that creating a plan is something only senior citizens need to do. If you are not close to retirement, you may believe you have no need to plan your estate. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and such misinformation could leave your family unprotected if something should happen to you while your children are still young.
Estate planning is more than deciding who will get your belongings after your die. It is something almost everyone should do, especially if they have others who depend on them for care and support. If you have recently welcomed a child into your family, now is an ideal time to carefully consider how you can provide the most complete protection if the unthinkable happens.
For the good of your family
At this most joyous time in life, you may feel it is inappropriate to dwell on your death and its aftermath. However, facing those facts head-on may help you realize the importance of putting your affairs in order and establishing a safety net of protection for your children. Some of the questions your estate plan can answer include the following:
- How much life insurance should I buy? Try to figure an amount that will support your child through college.
- How much life insurance does the parent need who stays home with the children? Figure the cost of the many services the parent provides, such as cooking, cleaning and childcare.
- How can I leave my assets to my child who is under age 18? A trust may be a more efficient instrument for managing the inheritance of a minor, but an attorney may show you how you can use a will for this purpose.
- Who will care for my children if an accident or illness should take both my spouse and me? If you do not decide, the court will choose someone.
In fact, choosing a guardian for your child may be the one aspect of estate planning many recommend you complete even if you decide to postpone the rest of the planning. This single decision may spare your child the trauma of a custody battle. Of course, you will want to discuss the matter with the person you choose as guardian and determine if he or she is willing to accept the responsibilities.
While you could complete many of these estate-planning steps online or with special software, you will not want to take a chance that your final product does not comply with New Jersey laws or is not appropriate for your unique situation. You cannot replace the knowledge and experience of an attorney who can help you create an estate plan that best meets your goals.