Prendergast Law Blog

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New Baby? Expecting? Start the good parenting early by updating your estate plan.

We know.  If you’ve got a new baby at home, or one on the way, you have any number of more interesting (err, also cuter and louder) things you could be doing at any time than your estate plan.  There’s a really strange dichotomy in preparing for the possibility of your death (or incapacity) while simultaneously nurturing a new life or preparing to bring new life into the world.  That said, just like getting the baby out, you can’t skip this part…or at least you shouldn’t.

While generally thought of as a tool to simply distribute your property after you die, your Will has another, equally (more?) important use for parents with young children:  It allows you to designate a guardian for them in the event something happens to both parents.  Now, this doesn’t cut off the rights of a living parent who still has parental rights, but if something has also happened to that parent in the form of death or incapacity, your Will may be the only direction a Court has in determining who your children should be entrusted to.

Of course, once you’ve addressed the question of who you would, effectively, leave your children to, you can get down to the business of deciding who gets your things.  Assuming that you intend for at least some of your estate to go to your children, taking the time to establish a trust to hold their inheritance can make things decidedly easier for all involved.  

For instance, if you simply leave an inheritance to a minor child, that money is not actually going to be distributed to that child, or even that child’s guardian, outright. Instead, it’s going to be held with the Court in accordance with the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, which is a really intimidating sounding Federal law that simply means:  you can’t leave your money to your baby and expect everyone to just be okay with that.[1]  With an inheritance administered by the Court, you are inviting governmental involvement into the financial decision-making that directly impacts your child after your death.  No one wants that.

There are other fun little gems in the estate planning toolkit that you should be thinking about for your family, including an Authorization to Make Healthcare Decisions for a Minor Child, which allows your designee to step in and make healthcare decisions for your children if you are unavailable, or educational decision-making documents if you have school-aged children who are living with friends in another district, etc.  

Bottom line:  We know you have too much to do already, but the realities of the mess that ensues if you leave minor children and no estate plan are very real.  Talk to us about how we can help give you peace of mind.

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[1]We’re being flippant, but this is a real thing with more nuances than this blog post can accommodate.  See:  N.C.G.S. 33A-1 et seq.