Family life brings with it a variety of responsibilities that can be seen and felt from the moment a child is born. As parents hold their babies for the first time, they are often overcome not only with love but also with the realization that they are responsible for protecting and providing for the tiny new life that has just been placed in their arms. Because children are so thoroughly dependent on their parents for love, protection, and provision, the loss of a parent has an enormous impact on the life of a child. Estate planning cannot replace the human presence of a parent who dies, but it can provide the protection and provision that they need.
Estate planning addresses three crucial needs of children, the need for safety, the need for stability, and the need for support. A child’s requirement for safety is met when they know that they will be cared for, physically and emotionally, by one or more adults for the duration of their childhood. If a person who is a parent or who fills the role of a parent in a child’s life dies, the child may become frightened, in addition to their grief, if they do not receive an immediate and certain answer to their question, “Who will take care of me?”. Estate planning helps parents provide their children with that quick and certain answer by giving them a means by which they can appoint guardians and alternate guardians for their children. Since naming a guardian in an estate plan involves conversations with potential guardians and providing for that guardianship in the parents’ wills, the guardian knows they have a vital role to take on immediately if a child’s parents die. When you name a guardian in your estate planning documents, your children’s need for safety is met by the provision for one or more other adults to immediately assume responsibility for their care if you die before they become adults.
Children also need stability. Naming a guardian and one or more alternate guardians in your will addresses your children’s’ need for stability by creating a plan for their care until they can care for themselves as adults. When you name a guardian and alternate guardians in your will, you acknowledge that you cannot predict with any certainty whether the first designated guardian will be alive or able to care for your children if you die, while at the same time providing for the possibility that someone else may have to be ready to do that. Listing alternate guardians ensures that your children will have the care they need throughout their entire childhood.
Children cannot support themselves financially. They are entirely dependent upon their parents or guardians to support them financially until they become adults and can take on the responsibility of providing for their own needs. Estate planning is the means by which you can ensure that the financial resources that you own will be available to your children. There are several ways you can make those resources available through estate planning, such as in your will, in a trust, and by designating beneficiaries of life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial assets.
If you would like to protect and provide for your children through estate planning, schedule an initial consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber. Our Estate Planning attorney can help you set estate planning goals and create an estate plan designed with those goals in mind. Please call our office at 316-265-7802, or contact us through our website.