It’s that time of year again. Summer vacation is winding down, the kids are going back to school, extra-curricular activities are ramping up, the weather is (finally) cooling off, and the leaves are beginning to change. We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three to five years, or after a major life event. As you’re helping your children get ready for another busy year – and before the holiday bustle begins – now is a good time to think about updating your estate plan.
Estate planning is important for every parent, but especially those who have children under the age of eighteen. Naming a guardian and conservator in your will is a crucial aspect to any estate plan of a parent with minor children. If you fail to name a guardian and conservator for your child in the event that you are no longer around to care for them, you’re leaving that decision open for a judge to decide. You may also want to consider adding in special provisions to hold your child’s inheritance until specific ages, or want to otherwise limit the assets they can access at the age of 18.
Parents with a child leaving for college may also want to consider an update. Once your child has attained the age of 18, you no longer have any legal right or ability to make health care decisions or communicate with doctors or other medical staff on your child’s behalf. At a minimum, have your child sign a Health Care Directive, which should contain a HIPAA release so that you can access their information in case of an emergency. Your child may also want to consider executing a financial power of attorney so that you can assist with things like banking, financial aid, and other payment matters.