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Estate planning is important for parents of young children

Many otherwise responsible adults can make the avoidable mistake of delaying critical estate planning decisions for too long. None of us truly know how much time we have in life. Even the healthiest adult can become the victim of a crime or wind up fatally wounded in a car crash or workplace accident. Medical issues, like a heart attack or stroke, can also strike with little warning.

Although you may likely have a long and healthy life ahead of you, assuming that you won't have to plan for the future until you get closer to retirement age can leave the people who depend on you in vulnerable positions. Those people include your spouse and your children.

Although the law in California does provide for the transition of assets from someone who dies to their direct family if there isn't a last will, there are other concerns you need to consider, including who will provide care for your children.

Naming a guardian for your children provides you and them with security

Naming a guardian is an emotionally complex process that involves not just facing your own mortality but evaluating the ability of the people in your life to care for your children. Someone you otherwise love and respect could be a terrible choice if they work 60 hours a week or have no experience interacting with young children or teenagers.

You might imagine that your spouse will assume legal responsibility for your children, but it is possible for them to wind up injured or killed at the same time as you. In other words, you should always have a contingency plan for custody in the event that neither you nor your spouse can provide for your children. Naming a guardian is an important part of that process.

Comprehensive estate planning safeguards assets for your children's future

California intestate succession laws provide guidance for the courts regarding how to handle assets when someone dies without a last will or estate plan. However, if you leave those assets to your minor children, their guardian can access and spend those assets, leaving your children with little to nothing as they get older.

Obviously, you would like to leave your children with assets that will protect their financial stability as they mature. A trust is a great way to do that. You can limit how much the trustee spends or what they use inherited assets for. You can also structure the trust in such a way that all the assets remain protected until your children are old enough to access them themselves.

Sitting down to talk with an experienced California estate planning attorney now will protect your children and give you peace of mind for years to come.

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