The Importance of Estate Planning in Your Child’s Life

You love your child dearly and sacrifice so much for him or her. Maybe you’re working an extra shift or putting in hours on the weekend to afford (or pay off) summer camp. Or perhaps parenting means you’ve abandoned an easy evening routine for one involving cooking barely-touched meals, picking food off the floor and cajoling your little one to stay in bed—and not make yet another trip to the bathroom.

For all the sacrifices parents make, however, they often only concentrate on the here and now. It’s hard to plan ahead, let alone several decades ahead, when you’re in the thick of paying bills, driving to soccer practice and fighting through your own cold while nursing a smaller version of yourself with the same cold. But you owe it to yourself—and, of course, to your child—to see the big picture.

Fortunately, if you’re (relatively) young and healthy, your odds of surviving to see your child’s graduation, wedding and beyond are high. But they’re not perfect. And if something were to happen to you—and/or to your co-parent, if you have one—the consequences of your failure to plan could be devastating.

The challenge isn’t necessarily about what would happen to your child immediately after you die. You probably have relatives and friends who would swoop in to do triage. But what happens weeks, months, years later? What if you didn’t set aside money for your child through a trust or annuity? What if you didn’t have life insurance, a written statement of values, or any way to convey your moral guidance? What if you didn’t appoint a guardian, and no one in your family steps up to help out—or the wrong person does?

Obviously, these thoughts are uncomfortable. And it’s easy to shrug them off, given the hopefully low odds that such contingency plans ever need to be considered. But statistics can be deceiving.

Imagine if you commute home every day across a bridge high over a river. On one random day of every year—which you could never predict in advance—the bridge’s middle section magically disappears for an hour. Anyone who drives over it at that unlucky moment would plunge into the river. You’d probably be scared to cross the bridge at first, but eventually that conscious fear would go away, and it would be replaced with a vague, gnawing sense of unease whenever you got in the car to go to work.

Rather than live with that threat and the psychological burden it carries, it rationally makes much more sense to take a different route to work—one that doesn’t involve crossing that bridge every day! That’s in essence what estate planning does. It takes a bit of effort and forethought to find a new route, just as it takes a bit of effort and forethought to plan for your child’s future. But the long-term payoff is definitely worth it. You get peace of mind. You remove a nagging source of uncertainty, and that makes you feel freer.

The process of planning for your kids does not need to take a long time or force you to have lots of uncomfortable thoughts or conversations. It actually canbe quite fun and heartwarming. We invite you to call our offices now to discuss your options. We can help! Contact one of our seasoned attorneys to discuss planning for your kid’s future.