Estate planning is not exactly the best “get-together” conversation topic when you are with friends or family. For me and my wife, many of our friends and acquaintances have just started a family within the last few years or are getting close, and when my job comes up, the conversation shifts to “oh, you do estate planning…we really need to do that.”
There are several reasons why many young families have not done any estate planning: it is perceived as too expensive and time consuming, a young family’s assets are usually simple and not considered high in value, and the likelihood of both young parents dying at or near the same time is extremely low. While there is some truth in each of those items, the risk of not doing any estate planning is greater than the costs.
A few examples of potential issues for a young family that has not done any estate planning.
- A will is used to appoint the guardian for your minor children. Without it, the probate court would be responsible for conducting proceedings to determine who would serve as your children’s guardian.
- A will nominates the conservator for your minor children. A conservator is responsible for overseeing a person’s finances and decisions regarding their assets. Without a named conservator, the probate court would be required to choose a conservator without any guidance from the parents.
- A will or trust is typically used to plan for the distribution of your assets. Without them, the probate court would apply the default mechanisms to distribute the assets (which may not align with a young family’s wishes). Also, without details about the timing and nature of the distribution of assets, all of the assets will become the children’s own property and come into their complete control at age 18.
If I can be of help in these areas, please let me know.