Components that every Virginia parent’s estate plan should include

It is important that Virginia parents develop estate plans, which include directives to ensure their children are cared for in the event of their deaths.

It is common for young families in Warrenton, and throughout Virginia, to put off estate planning. Many do so because they believe they are too healthy or too young, while others simply do not want to consider their own mortalities. Unexpected fatal accidents and serious illnesses, however, can, and often do occur.

Should parents, particularly those with young children, pass away without an estate plan, it can leave many uncertainties for their children. By including certain components in their plans, parents can help ensure their children are cared for if the worst does happen.

Designation of legal guardian

If both parents die before a child reaches adulthood, the responsibility of raising a child will fall to someone else. Therefore, the first component in every estate plan for parents should be the designation of a legal guardian.

Since a guardian will act in the parents' stead, choosing the right person is a vital decision. It can be helpful for parents to make a list of potential candidates and consider the following:

  • Does the child already have a relationship and feel comfortable with them?
  • Are they able to financially, emotionally and physically take on the responsibility of raising a child?
  • Would your child have to relocate to live with them, and how would that affect him or her?
  • Do their parenting style, religious beliefs and values match those of the parents?

Answering these questions will often help narrow down the choices. Then, it is generally a good idea for parents to talk to those they are considering. Doing so may reveal that some people have a strong desire to take on this role. It may also uncover which people do not feel they are able to take on this responsibility. By including these designations in their wills, parents can help ensure that this important decision is not left to someone who does not know their child, family or values.

Disbursement of assets

The second component when it comes to estate planning for parents is the disbursement of assets. Who will control the money and property on behalf of the children? Should the children receive their inheritance when they turn 18 or should the inheritance be handed out to them over time?

Sometimes, parents name guardians for their child's estate. In these cases, the guardian will control the money and assets in the estate until the child reaches the age of 18. This does not have to be the same person who serves as the child's guardian, which can help prevent the misuse of funds.

Trusts are another good way to disburse money to children. Through a trust, the assets may be disbursed to a child over time, rather than handing a lump sum over to an 18-year-old. Parents may also include provisions, which provide for the care of children until they are of age to receive their trusts.

Seeking legal counsel

There is a range of estate planning options available to Virginia parents, and others. It is important for people to not only create an estate plan, but also to ensure their plan will protect their children. Working with an attorney may help people to understand their options, and create an estate plan that fits the needs of them, and their families.

Keywords: estate plan, trust, will