When I first began my law firm, I started estate planning thinking of my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. Then when I had my first born almost three years ago, my perspective changed dramatically. Now as we prepare for our second child, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on how our estate plan has (and hasn’t changed) since children have come along.
The benefit of drafting your own legal documents is you can think ahead and prepare them for changes in the future. So, our documents from five years ago included provisions for future children. However, anytime a new addition is added to the family, the estate plan needs to be reconsidered.
This might mean a completely new structure. Going from a will to a trust. But it also means updating children’s names and very simple updates to make sure everyone is included.
It’s also an opportunity to make sure the people handling money and in charge of the children’s well-being are still appropriate. We had the trustee and guardian decided before Duncan arrived, but it’s amazing how the logically decision became so much harder once my son was actually here. In the end, I believe we made the right decision and we have not changed it. However, it’s mainly because I realize there is no right answer and no one can truly take our place if we aren’t here to parent. We can only choose and hope the transition would be as easy as possible.
Finally, it’s also a great time to review assets and make sure all assets will avoid probate and are included in your plan. If you’ve never talked to a financial advisor, it’s a great time to review life insurance as well as planning for the children’s future with 529s or other investments.
Now, I know many of my clients have children that are all grown up. However, those grownup children might have to start thinking about their own children. So, even if you’re not preparing for your own minor children anymore, it’s worth mentioning to your children for your grandchildren.