Having a child is one of the most heartwarming experiences in any young parent's life. For many young families, however, the addition of a new family member can also be a time of stress, especially if important legal matters, such as estate planning, have not yet been dealt with.
Children Become Victim to Uncertain Futures
Parents with young children may feel like they are too busy to deal with writing a will and setting up trusts to protect their future. Some may also feel like they have plenty of time to attend to these matters. If a tragedy occurs, however, younger children can experience uncertain or even risky futures, including being raised by a non-custodial parent or being placed in foster care.
While attending to financial matters and obligations is an important component of estate planning, it is even more critical to ensure that surviving minor children will be protected and properly cared for in the event of a parent's death. Proactive estate planning is the best way for young parents to ensure that their minor children will be cared for by someone of their choosing, should an event occur that renders them incapable of doing so.
If a properly executed will or legal document is not in place at the time of a parent's death or incapacity, the courts will be forced to appoint someone to do so. This other person is often a family member, but it can also be someone else, depending on the circumstances.
Incapacitation Can Also Wreak Havoc on the Unprepared Family
Like death, a young parent's physical or mental incapacity to handle their own affairs and make crucial decisions for their family can wreak havoc on a family with minor children that must be cared for. If legal documentation has not been put into place to protect the interests of the incapacitated parent, their spouse, and any minor children, the court is again free to appoint someone to handle their affairs.
Not only does this forced decision cause emotional stress on the family, it can also result in considerable expense and prolonged wait times at a time when the family can least afford these problems. Ensuring that a proper estate plan is in place, and remembering to update it whenever the family experiences a significant change is the best way to prevent this type of stress, should one or both parents become incapacitated.
Estate Planning Can Make the Probate System More Efficient
In California, most estates will be required to go through the probate system. If the proper legal documents are on file and readily available, such as the will, trusts, and any applicable affidavits, property transfers and other crucial decisions are able to be handled more efficiently.
When these documents are not in place or are incomplete, the probate system will necessarily move much more slowly, due to having to appoint someone to manage the process and in some cases, sell off some or all property to cover expenses and financial obligations. In many cases, the appointee will be paid out of the proceeds of the estate for their work. While necessary in some cases, this action further reduces the amount of money or property that will be available to help care for the surviving spouse and any minor children left behind.
Streamlining the Estate Planning Process
Protecting your family through estate planning does not have to be complicated. The best way to put together a solid, viable plan for your family's future is to sit down with an attorney who specializes in estate planning in your area. Doing this will help you navigate the complicated California probate system more easily and help to ensure that your spouse and children can move ahead confidently in the future, even if you are unable to be there with them. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Barrus and Roberts PC.