In the guide “What every parent needs to know about Estate Planning” the story of a child who lost his parents is told. There is no way to describe the devastation a child faces losing a parent, much less both parents. Fortunately, both parents dying is not common. Martha Patterson has represented children who lost both parents. She lost her own father in High School, and understands the loss of one parent, and like most people can not imagine the loss of both. She has been told that the failure of parents to select a guardian and the resulting battles in Court are the worst thing a child can experience, worse than the death itself.
It is important that you protect your spouse and children from stress, unpleasantness and expense. Provide for your children through loving selection of guardians and provision of resources. Many families find that the process of estate planning, including selecting and talking with their chosen guardian(s), has immediate benefits. Every client finds peace of mind. Some also find a new closeness between families and nominated guardians, and a clarity about the family’s place in your community.
Let’s look at some legal facts.
California will restrict use of your assets
Even if you have no will, you have a will. Your assets will go to your “heirs at law.”
Half of your separate property must be put into a separate court-supervised trust for each of your children, restricting your spouse’s ability to use the money.
Separate trusts hurt the child with special needs due to an illness, accident, or other problem, because your spouse cannot use the other children’s trusts to meet those needs, no matter how serious or urgent.
100% of the assets will be distributed when your child is 18, regardless of maturity level or financial savvy.
You will want to Dispose of your property in accordance with your wishes and values
California will decide who raises your children
If the other parent does not survive or is not custodial (as after some divorces) the court will choose your child’s guardian.
If your family or friends disagree about who should raise your children, the court will have to step in, resulting in high legal costs and possible family rifts that never heal.
Your children may even be placed in foster care until the dispute is resolved in favor of a court-appointed guardian.
Estate planning saves money
Court, attorneys and trustees fees to administer court-supervised trusts for your kids, and to select a guardian
Probate of up to 8% of the asset values of your estate. This is based on the values without subtracting debt. Check out our probate calculator for a personalized estimate.
Estate taxes of up to 55% of the current values of your assets (after subtracting debt) if your net worth plus life insurance benefits exceed $675,000. Call our office for an estimate.
Estate planning is a gift to your family
Between taxes and probate, your family may spend lots of time and money that could have been saved prevented by a solid estate plan. It is so much easier on the survivors emotionally and financially if they can consult with a trusted and liked attorney to administer your well-drafted plan. A few comfortable appointments and all will be set in accordance with your wishes.
Consider what you would prefer if you were the surviving spouse, and consider what your spouse would prefer if you were not there. Finally, imagine life for your children with guardians lovingly chosen by you, and with the assets to ensure their comfort and security. This is the peace of mind that an estate plan can provide.