Estate planning: Consider planning for minor children

Once you have children, your focus shifts from you to them. While new parents make many plans for their kids, one plan might not have been considered yet - an estate plan. You need to think about what you want to happen with your children when you pass away so that you can take steps now to make this happen. You might be surprised at some of the things that you need to consider.

The first thing for you to determine is who you want to raise your children. This person should be someone you trust and who is willing and able to care for them. Some people think that their parents will do this, but you have to think about what will happen if your parents are elderly and can't handle the task. When you decide who is going to take on this duty, you need to name the guardian for the children, which is done as part of your estate plan.

Another thing to think about is how you will financially support the kids. You can set up trusts for this to happen, but there are other options. You might decide to give the guardian your financial accounts, which means you need to have them named as the payable on death designee for each account. These assets aren't included in the will. There is also the matter of your life insurance policy since that can also be used to care for the kids if there is anything left after the funeral and burial expenses are handled.

Remember that you can always update most of your estate plan as your children get older or when your circumstances change. The exception to this is an irrevocable trust, which can't change once it has been established. Be sure to find out what options you have for your estate plan based on your current situation.

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