Palm Springs Law Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How New Parents Can Benefit from Creating a Will

As a new parent, your child is the most important thing in your life. They are your future, and you can’t wait to watch them grow and thrive.

But as much as you want to be with them for every second of their childhood, you need to acknowledge that something might happen to you before your child grows up. If this unfortunate incident occurs, the best way you can protect your child is to have a will in place that looks out for their needs.

When Parents Die Without a Will

If you and your spouse die without a will, your child is the one most likely to suffer. Because you haven’t created a will, the courts will need to step in and decide what happens to your finances and your children. While the courts will try to make the best decisions for your children, those decisions might not be ones you would have made if you were still alive.

Typically, the courts will try to place your children with the closest family member still living. This could be the parents of you or your spouse, a sibling, or someone else entirely. Whoever gains guardianship of your children will often also gain control of your finances, with the intent that those finances be spent to raise your children.

Friends and family members can petition the courts for the right of guardianship and control of your estate. These petitions will be considered on their merits, but the courts have few ways to determine what you would have preferred.

In the worst-case scenario, your children could end up in the foster system without access to the estate you left behind. This is something you never want to happen to your children.

Set Up Guardianship to Ensure the Security of Your Children

If your will designates a legal guardian, you know who will care for your children if you die. A legal guardian assumes all responsibilities for:

  • Housing, feeding, and raising your children
  • Providing your children with an education
  • Providing medical care for your children
  • Maintaining the finances of your children, including any trust fund you leave them

Before designating a guardian, speak to the person you are considering appointing guardianship to and discuss how you want your children to be raised. Anyone taking guardianship of your children will already have their own life, so you need to determine whether their lifestyle fits how you want them to grow up.

If your children are old enough, they should also be part of that discussion, or at the very least, know who would be taking over their care.

Additionally, it is best to have a backup guardian. In the unlikely event that the primary guardian is unable to take responsibility, a backup guardian protects the interests of your children.

Leave Money for Your Children and Their Guardian

In addition to ensuring that a good guardian will raise your children, you also want to ensure that they are financially secure. The best way to do this is to leave money to both your children and their guardian.

As soon as you have your first child, you should purchase a life insurance policy and assign the guardian as the recipient. You should also arrange for the policy to revert to your children once they are 18. Similarly, you should set up a trust that will provide money for your children once they turn 18.

An experienced estate planning attorney from Heritage Legal, PC can help you create wills and trusts if you live in the Palm Springs, CA, area. Reach out to learn more today.

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