Our most beloved relationships are the friends and family closest to us. And who are we closer to, aside from our spouses, than our children? We often think of them first when the idea of passing away is considered. But do you know exactly what you need to do to make sure they’re protected? Today we’re going to outline the 4 most important considerations you need to make to protect your children after you pass away.
A Will is the strongest argument for your wishes and desires when you die. It is the only ironclad document that tells everyone exactly what you want to happen. If there’s no will then friends, loved ones, and the court will have to spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out what it is you wanted to happen with your estate and the default rules provided by the Texas Estates Code will control. Wills can be very complicated, but we believe the following provisions are the most important things that should be included your Will to protect your children, especially minor children:
For all of the jobs named above (Executor, Trustee, Guardian) the thing they should all share in common is that you trust them. In addition, you should also consider naming several different alternative people in case someone, for whatever reason, can’t serve in the roll you have assigned them. We recommend having a list of three people (or couples for Guardians) for each job.
This can really be boiled down to some age old advice: be prepared! One of the biggest causes of headaches that we encounter is a simple lack of preparedness. Make a list of all of your current advisors with their contact information and keep this with your Will. These can be your banker, financial planner, CPA, attorney, even your Doctor. Each may have information that your Executor, Trustee or Guardian may need in the event you pass away.
Make sure beneficiary designations are on all life insurance policies. Any other accounts that have beneficiary designations need to be worded correctly to make sure that they are included in the trust that you set up in your Will. The unintended consequence of having designations that do not follow your estate plan is that somebody may receive assets or funds that you never intended them to have.
We’ve heard a couple different names for it like End of Life Binder or Death Book, but it’s a lot less cryptic than it sounds. Gather up all of the “other stuff” that it would be nice for your loved ones to have: passwords to online accounts, copies of the Will, pre-written obituaries, funeral plans, a list of people you’d like to be contacted when you die, etc. These minor, but important details, can be a burden on the family if they don’t have easy access to them.
Knowing what to do when someone dies can be an overwhelming experience. Make it easy to help guide your loved one when you are gone. This is why it’s a common practice of ours to add a cover letter to the Wills we draft with our contact information — we helped write it, we knew what you wanted, and we’re the most qualified to help probate it.
We always recommend you seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney if you have any questions about the estate planning process or writing a will. A qualified estate attorney will guide you toward the right choices for your family and everyone involved.
At Romano & Sumner, we pride ourselves on our ability to assist our clients in navigating complex legal processes like estate planning and will construction. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us today.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC