64% of Americans with Minor Children Do Not Have a Plan to Secure Their Future
Children are truly a gift from God. Whether you have one or many, you want to take care of each and every one of them forever. Unfortunately, a study by Caring.com found that a whopping 64% of Americans do not have a plan in place to secure their children’s future!
You want your children (and presumably your spouse) to have a secure future. Unfortunately, you cannot just work hard to give them a better life. You must plan for their future for after you are gone.
Without a plan in place, many problems can arise after you pass. Here are the top three reasons why you need a plan to secure your children’s future if you have minor children.
#1 Your Children May End Up Owning Your House
You should immediately be wondering why your children would own your house? While this is somewhat rare, when it does happen it creates a huge mess. Here is what happens:
Say you own a house, get married, and have two kids. Assuming the house is not titled properly (which does happen), if you die before your spouse, your spouse will get 1/3 of the house and the two kids will get 1/3 each. That may not sound bad, unless you want to sell the house…
Since your spouse and kids now own the house together, the kids now must sign the deed to transfer ownership. However, most people will not allow a minor to sign a deed over to them because the minor is then allowed to void that deed later (within 3 years of turning 18). Therefore, a guardian must be appointed over their estate so the guardian can sign the deed on their behalf to avoid this issue.
“But won’t my spouse just be the guardian?” Unfortunately, not over their estate. Your spouse will have to go to court to get guardianship over their estate, which costs extra time, extra money, and extra stress.
How do you avoid all of this “extra?” By having a proper plan in place by talking with an attorney who can make sure you have a plan in place to secure your family’s future.
Piggybacking off the end of point #1, guardianship proceedings cost time, money, and stress. You and your spouse may know who you want to become guardians of your minor children. Without a plan in place, however, the court will decide for you. This means family members could be fighting it out in court over who gets to look after your kids. You don’t want that, do you?
How do you fix this? By having a legally written out plan for who you want to take care of your children. While the court still has the ultimate power to decide who gets to be the guardian, the court relies heavily on a guardianship nomination contained in an estate plan. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to sit down with an attorney to discuss who you want to be your kids’ guardian should you both pass.
#3 A Windfall for a Minor
If you have minor children, you know that as soon as they get money, they want to buy the new toy or ice cream or anything else shiny and new. If they are not old enough for money, the same idea can be seen by a kid who will choose a cookie over carrots any day.
The point is minor children generally do not make the best decisions for their overall well-being. With that in mind, would you want your minor child(ren) to receive all of the money you have to do with it as they want? Certainly the answer is no, but it can happen without a proper plan in place to secure their future.
So what options are there to secure your kids future and not spoil them with a windfall? There are two main options. First, there is a special kind of bank account that can be designated for your kids called a UTMA account. These accounts allow you to deposit money with a “custodian” (usually a bank) and your child receives the money when they are at least 18, but no later than 21.
Second, you can create a testamentary trust as part of your plan so that someone else (maybe even the guardian you nominated) can manage that money and help it grow until they are old enough to receive it. Unlike UTMA accounts, trusts can last as long as you like. Many people set up trusts that do not distribute the assets until the child reaches the age of 25 or older. Some people even set it up where the children cannot receive assets until they have a steady job or college degree. I talk more about testamentary trusts here.
There is technically a third option: leaving the money to a child under a court-supervised guardianship. However, this seems to be more intensive than a trust or a UTMA account, so most people shy away from this option. Here is a good article comparing all three options.
Having children are a blessing, and you want to take care of them both now and in the future. However, to take care of them after you are gone, you must make a plan. Sitting down with an attorney who helps people like you create these plans is the absolute best option. By doing so, you will have confidence that your children’s future is secure.
If you have any questions about this blog post or creating a plan to secure your family’s future, schedule a time to talk with me.