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Protecting children through estate planning

There is nothing more important in the lives of many St. Paul residents than their children. This is particularly true for parents who spend the majority of their days caring for younger children, as the process of watching the children grow is an experience like none other.

Given the importance of children to a parent's life, it makes sense that children can also lie at the heart of a person's estate planning issues. At the outset, parents should have a plan in place to ensure children are well cared for in the event they die, which includes naming a guardian who will watch after the child and tend to the child's needs.

There are also financial issues that should be taken into consideration when thinking of what needs to be in place for children. Minor children in particular are unique when it comes to their ability, or inability, to own property in their individual capacity.

For instance, there can be issues not only with ensuring the child has sufficient assets for their needs, but also that the child does not end up with a lump-sum inheritance that could be wasted away if not properly managed. Accordingly, individuals may choose to set up a conservatorship or trust, which gives another person control over the finances with the child's needs at heart.

A trust might direct that the proceeds are only to go toward the child's health, maintenance, education or support, for example, which restricts the use of the funds. Parents can also dictate when the child will receive the proceeds outright, which might be set at a later age in order to ensure the child is mature enough to handle the assets. Accordingly, there are many issues that need to be considered for those who have minor children, and these issues deserve immediate attention in order to protect the child in the same manner as a parent does during his or her life.

Source: Moapa Valley Progress, "Estate planning with young children," July 16, 2014

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