5 Things Every Mother Needs to Know About Wills
As a mother, you naturally want to ensure your kid’s future in every way. For many mothers, making a will can pop into your head on occasion, thinking that you need to do it but not really sure how to do it or even why to it. You might be struggling to figure out what steps you need to take to protect your children’s future should the unthinkable happen. Here are five key things every mother should know about wills.
1. Naming A Guardian Could Be The Most Important Part Of Your Will
If you pass away while your child is a minor, the first issue to be addressed is who will assume responsibility for your child’s care. If you don’t name a guardian for your child in the will, the courts may decide this question for you, and the guardian might not be the person you would choose. When you don’t have guardians nominated, a court, who does not know you or your children would choose who would raise your children with absolutely no input from you. Selecting a trusted guardian may be the most important decision for you.
2. Name An Executor You Trust
To ensure your child does receive all that you have allocated when they come of age as an adult like life insurance proceeds, choose a trustworthy executor. Many people choose a family member, but it’s just as acceptable to appoint a trusted friend or even an attorney to handle your estate. Typically, an attorney has no emotional attachment to the family, which might seem bad, but usually results in less potential conflict.
3. Named Beneficiaries On Your Financial Accounts May Override The Will
Many accounts allow you to name a beneficiary. When you pass away, the funds go to the beneficiary named on the account, even if your will states otherwise. If you’re creating a will with your child in mind (or adding the child to an existing will), you should review your investment and bank accounts with your financial advisor to make sure there are no inconsistencies when naming beneficiaries. It’s also a good time to check retirement account and life insurance beneficiary designations with your financial advisor and your attorney.
4. A Will Is Not Always The Right Document For Your Goals
When naming your child as a beneficiary, a will only goes into effect after you die. If your will leaves property outright to a minor child, the court will step in and hold the assets until your child turns 18. Most 18 year olds lack the maturity to handle even a modest estate, so we don’t recommend outright inheritance for minor children.
A trust, on the other hand, goes into effect when you create it and can provide structure to manage the assets you leave behind (like life insurance policies) for the benefit of your child at ages you set like 25, 30, and 35 rather than all at 18 years old.
5. In The Absence Of Clearly Stated Intentions, The State Steps In
Think of a will, trust and other estate planning documents as an instruction manual for your executor and the courts to follow. You must be clear and consistent in your stated intentions regarding your child, as well as for others. If you’re not clear or if you don’t leave any instructions at all, the probate courts will step in and follow the government’s plan, which can lead to long delays and is probably not the plan you would have selected for your child and family.
Providing for your child’s long-term welfare may start with just a simple will, but to be fully protected, you probably need more. That’s why it’s important to talk with an estate planning attorney to make sure you have the right plans in place to fulfill your goals. We’re here to help! Contact us today to talk about your options to protect your kids.
Hermance Law, Estate Planning Attorneys Focusing on Planning for Families with Minor Children
Offices in Westlake Village, Ventura, Santa Clarita & Virtual
Crista Hermance, Estate Planning Mom™ is a mom to two little girls and is an Estate Planning Attorney licensed to practice law in California. She has a firm, Hermance Law, www.HermanceLaw.com, located in Ventura, California. Her practice focuses on helping families with minor children protect their families through estate planning. Her team meets with clients locally but can also work with clients virtually throughout the state of California. Crista is currently in the process of rolling out her Kids Safeguard System® throughout the U.S. through The Planning Parent, www.theplanningparent.com. You can reach out to Crista at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @EstatePlanningMom.