Starting a new family is an exciting time, but it also presents challenges. With so many new responsibilities, young parents have to consider who will provide for their families. In the event something tragic occurs, it is crucial to have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., our elder law and estate planning attorneys can help you prepare for the expected and the unexpected. When you become our client, we will help explore strategies for protecting the ones who matter most.
What Are Critical Issues to Consider?
Every family is at a different stage with respect to age, health, finances, and other factors. For this reason, it is impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. But the unique aspects of your family will affect which tools you adopt to care for them in the event tragedy strikes. Begin by asking questions such as:
- How old is everyone in your family?
- Do you, your spouse/partner, or your children suffer from any physical or mental health issues?
- Where are you and your spouse/partner in your careers?
- What earning potentials do you have in the future?
- Are any of your children in school, and where does college planning fit into the equation?
- What assets do you and your spouse/partner currently own?
- Have you and your spouse/partner started investing or saving for retirement?
The answers to these and other questions will take on added significance in the event of an untimely death. For example, if you have younger children, you may need to designate a guardian to look after them if both parents pass away. If you own substantial assets, which your children would inherit, you may wish to put them into a trust until they get older.
What Are Some Ways to Protect My Family?
Depending on your life circumstances, there are several different ways to ensure your family will be cared for in the event a tragedy occurs. Some of those include:
- Creating and executing a Last Will and Testament
- Using a plan to protect assets
- Having an Advance Medical Directive / Living Will
- Having a Durable Power of Attorney
How Does A Last Will And Testament Help A Young Family?
A last will and testament, simply known as a will, is primarily used to distribute property after someone passes away. But it is also used to name guardians for your children. If both parents die, a court will decide who gets to look after them. You need and deserve to have a say in this by using a will. You can also name individuals who can step in if something happens to the primary guardian or he or she is unable or unwilling to do the job.
Another way to use a will to provide for your family is to create a testamentary trust. This allows you to leave money upon your death that will go into a trust for your children, managed by someone you can rely on. These instruments can also provide that your children can only access the money when they are mature enough to do so or meet some other milestone, like finishing their formal education.
How Can I Protect Assets For My Young Family?
It’s not enough to have a plan for distributing your property after you die. Your goal should be to maximize the value of your assets and minimize liabilities and losses. One way to do this is to explore strategies to avoid or reduce estate and other taxes.
Children who inherit money are sometimes reckless, and this can lead to trouble for them as well as others. You may want to lessen the likelihood of this happening by exploring the use of trusts.
Finally, you should consider such risks as unexpected medical and nursing home costs for yourself or your spouse, ways to guard assets against bankruptcy, and managing debt and creditor claims.
What Can An Advance Medical Directive And Living Will Do For My Family?
If something happens to render you unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes, an Advance Medical Directive can help. This allows a trusted individual – usually a spouse for married couples – to make critical medical decisions. Without planning for this, a court could step in and make decisions you might not want.
Similarly, a Living Will specifies the type of treatment you want (or don’t) in the event of a terminal illness. Not only does this ensure that your health choices are respected, it relieves your family from the burden of having to make what are difficult end-of-life decisions.
Why Do I Need A Durable Power Of Attorney For My Family?
A Durable Power of Attorney is used to enable a trusted person to manage your financial affairs if you are alive but unable to do so. This person can pay bills, file taxes, access your bank accounts, and more. If something has happened to render you incapacitated, this critical instrument ensures that your obligations do not fall behind and bring financial ruin to your family.
Contact Our Experienced Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorneys
At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. we don’t just know how to draft the documents you need, we know which questions to ask and which risks to anticipate. Our Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys will guide you through the process, provide estate planning solutions you can count on, and give you the peace of mind you and your young family deserve. Contact our office today to set up a consultation.