Research tells us that over half of Americans today do not have an estate plan. This is a terrifying prospect. When we choose not to create an estate plan, not only are our hard-earned life savings at risk, but also our healthcare decisions in time of crisis. Only estate planning gives immediate legal authority to your decision makers in a time of crisis.

When you do not work with your attorney to create the planning you need, you are placing more than just yourself at risk. Estate planning is vital to ensure you are protected and provided for in a times of crisis, but this is only the first step. Protecting you is a primary goal but a simultaneous goal for us is to ensure your loved ones share the benefit of equal protection. Your planning should reflect your desires, but it should also reflect how you want those who matter the most to you to be provided for in the future.

Nowhere does this ring true more than planning for your children. Advance planning for your young children must take precedence when you are thinking about your estate plan. It is through your estate plan that you can protect their future and create a lifelong legacy that molds them into the type of adult you dream of them becoming.

We know just how important providing for your young children through your estate plan is because we share these concerns. As parents of young children we also worry about how their future will be determined if we are no longer here. Let us share several critical planning steps with you.

1. Always overthink. Although there are times when quick decisions are appropriate, now is not one of those times. You need to start your estate planning process by determining the future for your children in multiple scenarios. What would happen if your first choice decision makers could not act? What would happen if your children had to move to a new school district? What do they need to know about their grandparents’ health? Make a list of everything your children need to know if there comes a time when you cannot tell them.

2. Create the right estate plan for you. Not all estate planning is created equal, just as not all solutions will be right for you. Discuss with your attorney what documents you need to create a plan that will reach your ultimate goals. When your children are minors there are specific planning tools that need to be established since they cannot inherit directly from you until the age of majority. Since they will also need to be under guardianship until eighteen as well, you and your attorney should discuss decision makers at length to make sure the right person or persons for your family manage your children and your savings. Never leave anything simply to be paid on death as this creates a situation ripe for court intervention when you have young children.

3. Choose the right attorney. Legacy is important. Your story is important. Your values are important. You need to choose an attorney who understands you are not just creating documents. Instead, you are shaping a future for your children. This planning is never more critical than should it need to be used when you are not here. Find an attorney who understands this. Ask him or her what legacy means and learn how this attorney plans to craft your legacy into your estate plan.

We know how important it is to create a legacy when you have young children. Do not wait to determine what you want to leave to your children and ask questions about how to reach the outcomes you desire. Never put off the planning you can do today that will protect what you love, until tomorrow.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and is passionate about educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most – family, assets, and legacy.

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