Author of the book Estate Planning Smarts, Deborah L. Jacobs, was interviewed by Christine Benz of Morningstar Inc. In the interview, Ms. Jacobs spoke about why new parents need a will to protect their children:
The most important thing — and it’s something that I recommend people do almost immediately after becoming parents — is to be sure that you have a will. This is not only to transfer assets, but to appoint a guardian for your child if for some reason the child is orphaned. People don’t realize that a will is the only document they can use to do this, and if they don’t, then the whole matter has to go to court.
Ms. Jacobs also emphasizes that estate planning is not just for the wealthy; regardless of your financial means, a will helps to ensure that your children are taken care of in the event of your death.
If you have minor children, an important aspect of your estate plan will be selecting a guardian or guardians to take custody of your children after your death. Selecting a guardian can be difficult, and you and your parter (and attorney if possible) should deeply discuss all possible options before making a decision.
When selecting the individual who will take guardianship of your children, there are a few things you should consider.
Losing a loved one is difficult enough without all the additional legal hassles. Preparing the deceased’s estate may fall to you if you are named as the executor, and the court will assist you with your obligations if you are unsure of how to proceed. Though you should always rely on the assistance of your attorney or the probate court if you have any questions, the following is a general outline of the steps you must take when someone dies.