Should New Parents Prepare a Will?

Dec 13, 2019Estate Planning, Wills

Leslie Thomas, Attorney

We all experience new considerations as we enter new life stages. This is especially true for a new parent. A common question we encounter is this; should new parents prepare a will? The short answer is YES.

All through the years, especially since the launch of Thomas-Walters Estate Planning, we’ve come across heartbreaking stories with adverse legal implications. We’ve seen cases where a mom or dad dies and leaves behind their young child with no legal plans in place beyond term life insurance. 

In more grievous cases, both parents get involved in a fatal accident, suddenly turning their minor children into orphans. That’s why we want to share some legal advice on the importance of having a will for young parents.

When a situation like this occurs, the question usually asked by surviving relatives is “what’s next for their loved ones?” 

Our hope is that those young parents take the right step in putting together an estate plan to help answer that question. Of course, having a living will or trust is the only way to guarantee a parent’s wishes are spelled out for a surviving spouse or child’s guardian.

Unfortunately, most of the time, we’ve come to observe that no estate plan was put in place. Why? Few young parents want to think about death, beneficiary designation, or special needs planning. We get it. However, think about this. Do you want the state to decide what they feel is best when it comes to managing assets in your absence, or choosing the child’s guardian?

If not, then even new parents should think seriously about preparing even a simple legal document with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Legal advice: Why Every New Parent Needs a Will in Place

Sadly, millions of Americans do not have even a basic will. The statistics are even worse if you take a look at adults between the ages of 20 and 30. Most people only begin to think seriously about this important legal service when they start to age. 

One of the foremost pieces of legal advice that we give out is to encourage parents to get an estate plan once they get married to help the surviving spouse. The urgency to update your will only increases when they begin to have kids. We are not implying new parents should expect to die. However, getting prepared for unforeseen circumstances proves how much value and love you have for your children. 

Yes, new parents should prepare a will. Here are 4 reasons that a will is non-negotiable for young parents:

  1. You choose an estate executor

This is the person whose name appears in your last will and testament as legally qualified to oversee your assets if you die. This includes personal property, real estate, and retirement accounts. Your goal here should be to choose someone, often a loved one, that you can trust to implement your last wishes. You also want to use this time to put together every bit of information about your assets and online accounts. Don’t forget to outline your recurring bills, as well. Doing this ensures that the executor can easily handle your affairs after death.

  1. Your minor children get a guardian

Granted, your surviving spouse becomes the guardian for your kids if you pass away. But have you considered what could happen if you both passed away at once? What becomes of your kids and under whose care will they come? Most people assumed a loved one, but who will decide without a will and without your input? Young parents should take the time to decide upon a trustworthy family member or friend that can serve as a guardian for their kids. Be sure to discuss the possibility with this person. Once finalized, do not hesitate to put it in writing legally. Not doing this means that the probate court will decide who takes care of your kids. It would really be sad to have your children under the care of someone you never intended.

  1. Your children’s inheritance will be in safe hands

An estate plan can be permanent as an irrevocable trust, or flexible in a revocable living trust that can lay the ground rules for who manages the inheritance your kids receive in your absence, including life insurance policy proceeds. 

In the absence of a plan, the court will likely appoint someone else to manage your minor child’s inheritance. This will also come at a cost and may incur unnecessary estate tax. Why not choose a trusted friend, loved one, or sibling and decide how the situation should play out in your absence? 

Your kids may get their inheritance at age 18 but a trust could serve to meet their needs while growing up. This is especially important if there are special needs or medical decisions to consider. This is where a special needs trust is vital. These documents will also provide the right support their new guardian needs as they navigate a new territory of caregiving. 

  1. Get covered even in disability

In the event of a bad accident, both parents may not necessarily pass away. It could also be a situation of permanent disability for one of the parents or even both. A health care directive can guide the decisions that are made for you during this time. That is why it is necessary that you give some thought to a power of attorney empowering a close relative to make such decisions. 

Should your partner be unwilling or unable to make these decisions, you will have someone ready who can. Since most term life insurance policies don’t offer coverage for disability, remember to factor in disability insurance.

Smart Young Parents Plan Their Will, Today.

By now, you likely see the importance for new parents to prepare a will. Before you do, read this. Beware of cheap “DIY online wills” you can complete as a template. While some people may assume they are better than nothing, that’s not always the case. 

You don’t want to wait until it matters to test the legitimacy of such an important legal document. There is no substitution for working with an experienced attorney for completeness and accuracy, but also for the benefit of the attorney client relationship when it’s time to upgrade or make changes. 

Set up a free consultation at one of our offices, or, schedule a virtual estate planning consult from anywhere in Texas. You have a responsibility to your children to not only care for them now but also to secure their future in your absence. 

Thomas-Walters, PLLC is here to help you. We will ensure that you get the guidance necessary to create a last will and testament and can discuss more comprehensive and specialized estate planning tools that perfectly meet your needs.

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