Parents have a lot to worry about it, from returning to work at the right time, to raising your child to be a great person. One worry that nobody wants to think about is what will happen to your children if something happens to you. It’s important to make a plan for the future of your child and make sure they will be cared for if the worst were to happen to you.
A will specifies who will inherit your estate after you die. For parents, your will can also be used to ensure that your child is provided for and cared for in the way you want. With a probate attorney, draw up a will that sets out who will care for your children, and designate a trustee to manage their inheritance until they are adults.
There are some simple ways to make sure your children will be taken care of, whatever happens to you.
- Make a separate will for each parent. A joint will might seem sensible, but if one parent dies, the other is bound to the will. This could make things much harder for the surviving parent if they need to change the will to reflect other changes. Each parent should make their own will.
- Name your partner as your sole beneficiary. If you’re married, naming your spouse means the courts can’t decide to split your property between your spouse and children. Property that was given to the children would be controlled by a state administrator until they came of age, meaning your partner wouldn’t be able to get at it. Instead, name your spouse as the sole beneficiary, with your children as alternates in case you and your partner die at the same time.
- Make it clear that you want your partner or spouse to be the guardian of your children. You might think that this would be obvious, but after your death, it is possible that someone could come forward and dispute custody. Name a guardian, whether your spouse or someone else, to stop this from happening.
- Have an alternate guardian named in the will. If you and your spouse are involved in the same accident and were both killed, you need to have an alternate guardian clearly named so the children go to someone you trust. This clause will also help if the other parent is left unable to care for the children for any reason.
- Name a trustee. A trustee will manage any property that the children inherit from you until they are legal adults. If you don’t have a named trustee, the court will appoint one. The same person can be a guardian or trustee, or you can choose different people. Both options can work out well, so think carefully about who you choose.
- Keep it up to date. Check your will every few years to make sure it has been changed to reflect life changes, such as a divorce, more children, a change in your finances, or a new relationship.