Probably the worst nightmare a young child can imagine is losing a parent. For us, as adults, its painful to imagine our young ones possibly floundering in the world without our guidance, without our support. We like to think of our children as vessels that we will instill with our values; that will they carry on our lives and our hopes. We give them the best of our lives, and that hopefully we will have the reward of seeing them blossom into strong, self sufficient young adults.
For parents with young children, estate planning means providing a surviving spouse with means to survive and transition to a single parent family or selecting guardians for the minor children if both parents are lost. It also means appointing trustees who will manage the estate for the children until they reach a sufficiently mature age.
How many of us are mature enough to manage money at 18? At 21? At 25? The appropriate trustee can manage the estate and make distributions on behalf of the minor children. A properly designed estate plan spells out what those distributions should be made for such as school, college, starting a business, starting a family, entering into religious life or, to reward community activity and charitable work. A properly designed estate plan can also restrict distributions to inhibit behaviors such as drug use, gambling, or certain types of careers. By providing these types of instructions and guidelines, the trustee and the guardian can help shape the child’s life to reflect the parents’ values.