Most people are under the mistaken assumption that estate planning is just a mechanism to distribute your property. Due to that misconception, people assume that estate planning is for people who have accumulated a lot of property (i.e. cash, real estate, furniture, jewelry, etc.) such as the wealthy or the elderly. However, estate planning is for everyone including young parents.
Estate Planning Should Occur Soon After the Birth of Your Child
It is amazing to me that some parents will wait until their children are adults to start planning. At that point in their lives, they have accumulated some property and they're starting to get older so perhaps driven by the realization of their mortality, they decide to start an estate plan. Better late than never definitely applies here, but the better time to do estate planning is soon after your first child is born.
For young parents, estate planning is not primarily about distributing property, but instead, it is for protecting your most precious asset, your children. While you should be thinking about how to ensure that your property will be used to benefit your children, one of the most important things you can do is have a plan in place to be sure that there is someone you trust that will care for your children in the event that both you and your spouse become deceased.
Being that you're a young parent, it is unlikely that you'd become deceased in the near future, but why take the gamble? It is silly to risk the safety and security of your children. No matter how careful you are, we live in a world with other people. There are careless people everywhere you go.
According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, there were 379 serious traffic injuries in 2011. That's more than one per day on average. In 2014, there were 95 deaths related to traffic accidents. Besides traffic accidents, there is a multitude of other tragic things that can happen. I won't attempt to list them all, but the point is that it's smart to be as prepared as possible. If not for you, but for your children.
Young Parents Should Create a Will to Name a Guardian
Young parents need a will. In your will, you nominate someone that you trust and know will take good care of your children, to be your children's guardian. If both you and your spouse die without a will, the court will have to decide who to give your children to. There is no guarantee that you'd approve of this person if you were alive or that this person will be able to care for all of your children. The worst-case scenario is that your children will be separated or put in foster care if there is no one in the court's opinion that fits the bill. Don't let that happen to your children.
Create a will to choose your children's guardian as well as to ensure that your property will be managed for your children's benefit. While a trust can be beneficial, I recommend that young parents have at least a will as a minimum. Also, while you're having your will created, don't forget to name short-term guardians in another legal document so your children aren't taken into the custody of strangers (i.e. foster care) for even a second. Be sure this document is readily available in the event of an emergency.
Other documents you should have include an advance health care directive and a power of attorney for you and your spouse in case you become incapacitated.
The Bottom Line: Young Parents in Hawaii Need Estate Planning
Contact Us — Your Trusted Honolulu Estate Planning Law Firm
As young parents in Honolulu or in Hawaii in general, I realize that estate planning is not high on the priority list with the high cost of living and seemingly endless expenses, but it is something you should really consider for the safety and well-being of your children. Contact us to get started.
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This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
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