UNDER 60 WITH ADULT CHILDREN
Planning for the Future
The next stage of financial and estate planning occurs when the married couple have attained the age when they may still have minor children as well as adult children. Because a sudden illness and/or passing may incapacitate the parents, planning should be put in place to include a guardian for any minor children as well as an individual to handle your financial affairs. Instead of a simple will, the husband and wife could prepare a will with testamentary trust provisions for minor children along with a power of attorney to manage assets, a medical power of attorney to manage health care, an advance directive to physicians (also known as a living will), and a HIPAA release to authorize disclosure of medical information.
The will has two provisions for the children: (1) a designation of guardian over the physical placement of the children; and (2) an appointment of a trustee over the monetary assets of the children. Remember, ongoing involvement in the probate court requires formalities that increase the cost of administering your estate.
If both parents were to pass away suddenly, the court would consider appointing a guardian over the person of the child for purposes of health, maintenance, and welfare. The guardian would then be responsible for day-to-day matters concerning the child, including placement in a school system, medical treatment, and other similar issues.
The court would appoint a testamentary trustee pursuant to the testamentary trust language in the will. The trustee would operate pursuant to the testamentary trust provisions, which normally state that the trustee can pay for any bills related to health, maintenance, and welfare of the children through the age of minority, as well as with distribution of principal amounts at ages set forth in the will. If you do not wish for your children to receive a lump sum distribution, we can draft provisions that allow distributions at certain ages of over a period of years.
The parents may also consider a living trust with provisions for adult children similar to those described for the testamentary trust. A living trust is a contract that is independent of probate court jurisdiction, and it therefore streamlines the work considerably. The trustees of a living trust are persons who the parents trust with the proceeds from their estates.
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