Estate Planning for Young Families

Young people, including the author, tend to think they are invincible. They don’t plan on getting sick or even worse, dying. Why, then, do they need an estate plan? For the same reason that older people create them: we are all mortals with a finite lifespan and no guarantee of good health. Young families do, however, have certain unique concerns which need to be properly addressed and which will be briefly discussed in this article.

Guardians for Minors
Young families usually have minor children whose care, if both parents were to pass away, needs to be entrusted to someone reliable. Not surprisingly, one of the most important reasons that young couples need to think about estate planning is to decide who will be tasked with the important responsibility of raising their children if they were to both pass on. This decision is one of the most important a parent ever has to answer. I often see couples who are 100% in agreement with the financial portions of their estates have visceral disagreements regarding who will care for their kids if they’re gone. Sitting down with an estate planning attorney to appoint a guardian for minor children is a difficult but necessary task that every young family needs to engage in.

Naming an Executor for Your Estate
Who do you want to collect your assets, pay your debts, and manage your bequests after you pass? While a spouse is the natural first choice – who will step in if he/she cant? While that person can be the same as the guardian, it need not be. The choice is critical and will have a huge effect on the management of your estate.

Distribution of Assets at Appropriate Ages
Would you trust your 18 year old with the proceeds of your life insurance, IRA, and home? Without an estate plan, your children will be able to access their inheritance when they become legal adults at age 18. Unless your idea of teaching children responsibility is giving them the keys to a Ferrari and a seemingly unlimited supply of spending cash, it may be wise to set up an estate plan which allows a trustee to distribute the money to your children over time. A trustee, someone you trust to handle your children’s finances for their benefit, can have discretion to pay for the child’s education and living expenses and can give them spending cash without giving them direct access to their eventual inheritance. You don’t have to have millions to set up a trust, and most trusts for minors are spelled out directly in the will and are known as testamentary minors’ trusts.

Life Insurance Planning
While I don’t sell life insurance, I strongly urge young parents to look into their insurance needs and purchase enough insurance to cover their mortgage, loans, anticipated children’s tuitions, and lifestyle expenses for their families. Insurance won’t alleviate the sense of loss your loved ones will feel, but it can help make sure that they can go about their lives in relative financial security. While life insurance is used for a variety of purposes from business agreements to estate tax planning, its practical effect is felt most poignantly when a parent suddenly passes away leaving dependents, making it vital for young families.

In summary, while young people have time on their side, they also often have the responsibilities of small families on their shoulders. They don’t need to be millionaires or in poor health to think about their estate plans – they simply need to consider their responsibilities to their loved ones.

Roman Aminov, Esq. is an Queens, NY based estate planning lawyer concentrating in estate planning, elder law, Medicaid planning and probate. For a consultation, contact him at (347)766-2685 or

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