FAMILY ESTATE PLANNING
How Do I Take Care of My Kids When I'm Gone?
This is the most frequently asked question I get. And the answer is complicated, but it boils down to this very simple statement: The more you do to plan for your death, the easier it will be on your family when it happens. This doesn't mean it will lessen the emotional blow, but it will make the logistics much easier.
Is a Will Enough?
Most people come to me just thinking they need a will, and you absolutely do! But that may not be all you need, depending onyour goals. If you just want to choose who takes care of your children after the death of you (and your spouse or partner if you have one) then a will is certainly sufficient. However, if you want to decide who controls the finances for your children and how that money is spent (especially if they are minors) then you want to look at additional options. You also want to consider a Special Needs Trust if you have any children with disabilities. This type of trust is irrevocable and will allow your child to still qualify for federal assistance.
Do I Need a Trust?
If you have special wishes for the assets you will leave to your children, a trust is the way to go. This means, if you want to leave the money for a certain purpose (such as health and educational expenses) or if you wish to keep a particular asset for them until they reach a certain age (such as keeping a house until they reach the age that they could live in it without supervision), then you would need a trust to accomplish that.
Another benefit of a trust is that since the trust itself would own the assets, as opposed to your children owning the assets, the trust fund is protected from creditors and potential divorce proceedings of your children. They are not protected from YOUR creditors or divorce proceedings, though.
What Else Do I Need?
Melanie believes it is only responsible to give the most complete Estate Plan possible, while still taking into account the desires of the client. So, Melanie provides the following documents to every client, at no additional charge:
Durable Power of Attorney - This details who will make your financial decisions if you are incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney - This details who will make your medical decisions if you are incapacitated.
Living Will - There is some overlap with this and the Medical Power of Attorney, but this specifies your wishes as to your medical care. This means that whatever is not stated in here would likely be covered by the Medical Power of Attorney. This is generally given to health care providers when you are undergoing any procedure that requires anesthesia.