Making Sure Your Kids Are Cared For Should the Worst Happen
Integrated Learning Strategies is excited to feature care for kids when emergencies happen with guest blogger Maurine Dashney. While many of the recommendations below are great for children and parents, some accommodations or exceptions may be made for children with learning challenges and learning disabilities.
There is something about having a spouse and children of your own that can get you thinking about planning for the worst. Accidents can happen and a medical emergency can strike at any moment, and you want the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be taken care of should the worst happen. Here is a look at what you can do to help ensure that your spouse and children will be taken care of financially if you die or become incapacitated.
Draft a will.
One misconception about wills is that they are only necessary if there would be some sort of familial conflict over your finances and property after you died. But guess what? If you don’t prepare a will before you die, the state will have one for you. Dying without a will is legally referred to as dying “intestate,” and in this scenario the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed after your death. Property will include all bank accounts, real estate, and other assets that you own upon your death.
Creating a will is truly the only way to ensure that your assets are distributed to your spouse and children according to your wishes upon your death. You will not be able to avoid probate—the process through which the courts determine the validity of a will—by drafting a will, but drafting one will make the probate process run much more quickly, smoothly, and affordably for your spouse and children when you are gone. Just be sure when you create your will that you go about the process correctly. This article details what you need to know about creating a valid will.
Name a guardian.
A will isn’t just for allocating your assets; it’s also a place to formally appoint a guardian to take care of your child if you and your spouse die while your children are still minors. Many parents have difficulty appointing a guardian for their children out of fear of choosing the wrong person, but keep in mind that this is something you can always change.
Create a trust.
It’s important to keep in mind that wills have their limitations, as they are only effective upon a person’s death, and they do not account for when someone becomes incapacitated during their lifetime. Comprehensive estate planning, then, best includes both a will and some sort of trust. A trust, in short, designates a trustee who will hold and control your assets on your behalf should you become incapacitated or pass away. A trust can allow your family to bypass the probate process, whereas a will cannot. In a trust, you can specify when and to whom assets will be distributed. For your children, for example, you might designate certain amounts of money to be distributed every five years, when your children reach a certain age, or when your children reach a particular milestone such as graduation from college.
One other plus to creating a trust is that a trust can keep your assets and financial affairs private. Probate proceedings are public record, and using a trust to avoid probate can help keep your family safe from, say, disgruntled relatives or former spouses.
Assign a power of attorney.
Assigning a power of attorney is one of the more affordable and straightforward aspects of estate planning. There are two types of power of attorney: financial and medical. Financial power of attorney allows someone (the “agent”) to take care of financial matters such as writing your checks, while medical power of attorney allows someone to make decisions concerning your health care. Often this is a step you can simply add on while drafting your will with an attorney. Assign a power of attorney can help keep the right people in charge of your health and finances should you become incapacitated.
Get life insurance.
A lot of us don’t as much about life insurance when we are younger and have no dependents, but once a spouse and children are involved, you’ll definitely want to consider it. Life insurance will help cover lost income after you die, which is essential if your children and/or spouse are dependent on you financially. A good rule of thumb when it comes to life insurance is to get enough life insurance to equal about 10 times your annual salary.
Keep track of your beneficiaries.
Finally, it’s important to note that beneficiaries on retirement accounts, insurance policies, and investments trump your will. This can be a problem when, say, your assets will be distributed to your children according to your will, but your IRA still has your former spouse listed as the beneficiary. So with this in mind, update your beneficiaries and be sure that the beneficiaries listed on these things are in line with what you have in your will.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs