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Creating your first estate plan with older children

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2022 | Estate Planning |

New parents have a lot on their plates. When a couple first adds a child to the family, they may not understand how that decision will look like their sleep schedule and daily lives. It can take a year or more for the new family unit to find equilibrium, and then that newfound routine could quickly change when parents add more children to the family.

Given the ever-shifting demands of having a growing family, it is very easy for parents to put off important and practical actions, like estate planning. You may realize that your children might require a guardian or financial support if anything happens to you, but you might tell yourself you don’t need an estate plan until you’re done adding children to the family.

Many parents let procrastination take control and end up realizing that they have teenage children and no legal protection for their kids. What are some smart estate planning moves for parents with teen children finally creating their first estate plans?

Think about what your teens might need

In theory, your children could be just a few years away from adulthood. Anyone who has parented a teenager understands that they do not necessarily make very wise long-term decisions. The idea that your child would be left without any kind of guidance at the age of 18 or given full access to their inheritance at that point may concern you.

Creating a trust is a smart move for those who worry that their children might waste an inheritance. It can also provide an adult other than a parent or guardian to give a child advice and oversee the decisions they make regarding their inheritance.

You will also need to name a guardian for your teenage children even if they are already relatively independent already. Emotional trauma can be a real setback to an otherwise mature young adult, and they will also need someone to help them as they grieve and prepare for adulthood.

Prepare for a medical emergency

Now that your children are older, they would be able to understand the implications of a sudden emergency, like a car crash that puts you in a coma. However, they would likely also feel vulnerable and terrified in that situation unless you have a thorough estate plan.

Advance medical directives and powers of attorney are crucial documents to have in place in the event of a medical emergency. They can help guarantee that someone you trust will have the authority to make choices about your health care needs. You can also give someone the authority to handle financial matters so your children don’t have to worry about your family falling behind on a mortgage because of your incapacitation.

Proper estate planning when you have teenagers in the household will protect them no matter what happens. Talking with and the state planning lawyer about your family and personal wishes can help you create effective estate planning documents at any stage in your life.