Naming a Guardian for Minor Children
Deciding who will raise your child/ren if something happens to both parents is often a difficult decision. But it is very important, because if parents do not name a guardian, the court will have to appoint someone without knowing your wishes, or the wishes of the child/ren or other family members.
Providing Instructions for Distribution of Assets
Most married couples want their assets to go to the surviving spouse if one of them dies. If both parents die and the children are young, they want their assets to be used to care for their children. Some assets will transfer automatically to the surviving spouse by beneficiary designations (i.e. retirement accounts) and how title is held. However, an estate plan is still needed in the event this spouse becomes disabled or dies, so that the assets can be used to provide for the children.
Naming Someone to Manage the Children's Inheritance
Unless this in included in the estate plan, the court will appoint someone to oversee the children's inheritance. This could be a stranger to the family. It will cost money (paid from the inheritance) and the children will receive their inheritances in equal shares when they reach legal age of 19. Most parents prefer that their children inherit when they are older, and to keep the money in one "pot" so it can be used to provide for the children's different needs until they reach certain ages. Establishing a trust for the children's inheritance lets the parents accomplish these goals and select someone they know and trust to manage it.
LGBT Estate Planning