You Need Estate Planning if You Have Minor Children

Did you know that the only place you can legally appoint a guardian for minor children is in your Will?  This is the number one reason younger families need estate planning! Without a surviving parent, a court process would ensue to appoint a guardian, if your Will does not name one.  As difficult as it may be to name someone you trust, it may be far worse to leave it up to the court – who will choose based on who is the closest next of kin.

The guardians you select for your minor children will be responsible for their upbringing if neither parent is alive. A good plan will not only name a guardian, but create a trust under your Will to provide for minor children.  When assets are left in trust, the trustee has the flexibility to meet the child’s needs without court approval.   The trustee is a fiduciary who must act in your children’s best interests.

While the guardian has the responsibility to protect, preserve and manage the property of the minor, without a trust, there are a lot more rules. The guardian can sell personal property, but needs court permission to sell real property (like your home if it is inherited by your children,) and expend money for college. A bond must be posted and annual accountings are required. The court, and not the guardian, determines what expenses are reasonable.

With a trust under your will, you can waive the need to post bond, require accountings or court permission.  It’s essential to name a guardian, create a trust and formulate a financial plan if you have minor children.

At the law firm of Susan G. Parker, Esq. PC (914) 923-1600, we can help you plan for guardians and trusts for your children.