Planning for the "what-if's" in life
Your children need you. If something happens, how do you want them raised?
Having a will and estate plan in place will allow you to guide your children as they grow, even if you can’t physically be there to do it yourself. An estate plan isn’t only for the wealthy. It is for anyone who wants to provide for and protect family and loved ones.
Instilling strong values and teaching life lessons is one of the most important roles you play in your child’s life. Generally, if something happens to one parent, the other parent will continue to raise your children. What happens if something happens to both of you, though? Who is the right person to raise your children? Does this person share your values? Do they have the right personality and temperament to parent your children in the manner you desire?
As you think about who will raise your children, consider the person’s parenting and social skills, as well as whether they will strive to maintain relationships with each parent’s extended families. Can the potential guardian manage finances well? How will the addition of one or more children affect the guardian? Can they handle the additional strain?
You should give careful thought to your choice of guardian, ensuring that he or she shares the values you want instilled in your children. You will also want to give consideration to the age and financial condition of a potential guardian. Some guardians may lack child-rearing skills you feel are necessary. If you fail to plan, the decision as to who will manage your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law.
Trustee (or Conservator)
Those with minor children have extra special considerations when doing proper estate planning. Minor children do not have the legal ability to hold or manage money. Special planning must be done to allow the appointment of a person or persons you would like to manage your assets, for the benefit of any minor child. If done correctly, this will eliminate the need for court involvement should you be survived by a minor child.
Think about how you want your children’s financial needs to be handled. The guardian will need additional resources, but what other aspects are important to you? Maybe you want to provide for college. Or assist your children’s development into motivated and productive individuals. Oftentimes, the guardian will have input into how money set aside for your children is used, but the person named to manage your children’s funds (known as a trustee) will ensure any funds are used to support your children—not spoil them. The trustee will manage funds as you direct, but those directions need to be developed first.
Keep in mind that the person you name to be in charge of the finances need not be the same person as the guardian. In fact, in many situations, you may want to designate different individuals to maintain a system of checks and balances.
It is also a good idea to have a power of attorney in place for your kids that allows a grand-parent or caretaker to consent to medical treatment. Being called away from work or a getaway due to an injured child is troubling, but delaying treatment because no one has authority to consent is worse.
Start Planning Today!
A well-crafted estate plan should provide for your loved ones in an effective and manner by avoiding conservatorship during your lifetime, probate at death, estate taxes and unnecessary delays. You should consult an estate planning attorney to review your family circumstances and financial situation, your goals and explain the various options available to you. Once your estate plan is in place, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have provided for yourself and your family in case the worst happens.
If you need help getting started, please feel free to use our Estate Planning Worksheet designed to help you organize and develop your plan. Request our free Estate Planning Checklist.
Serving as a Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning attorney primarily in Leawood, Lenexa, Mission, Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park and Shawnee, but we also enjoy serving throughout the Kansas City area. Please let us know if we can be of assistance or answer any questions.
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Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right beneficiaries when an individual passes away. Wills are used to distribute your property, name a guardian for minor children and name an executor of your estate.
A living trust allows your property to be transferred to your beneficiaries, quickly and privately, with little to no court intervention, maximizing the amount your loved ones end up with. In a living trust, you name yourself as trustee, which makes you the person in charge of your property. As trustee, you retain total control of the property you transfer into the trust. You can amend your trust at any time and can even revoke it entirely.
Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship, is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian, or custodian. A guardian or conservator is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property.
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I love working with Todd Rasmussen an Estate Planning Attorney. He was super easy to work with. My advice is to not wait until it is too late.
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Estate Planning Kansas City did an outstanding job and provided a very valuable service to us. They assisted us in addressing very complex situations that can occur in a lifetime. This included but not limited to health care directives, provisions for managing estate during any temporary health issues and ensuring beneficiaries are of sound medical, mental and financial capacity prior to distribution of estate. Very happy with results and would HIGHLY recommend Estate Planning Kansas City Todd Rasmussen and his staff!