BOSTON (CBS) – Catastrophes happen! Natural disasters! Accidents. Illness! Old age.
No one gets out of this world alive, but we can plan to make it easier on those we leave behind. If you have accumulated assets or you have minor children you need to do some estate planning. The more complicated your life the more complicated your planning needs to be.
Experts estimate that less than 35% of individuals have wills. This is one thing people procrastinate about, especially parents with young children. 75% of parents with young children have not done the estate planning that could keep their children safe if something should happen to the parents. The parents need a will naming guardians for their children if something should happen to them.
Most parents put off this process because they just don’t know who to name as guardian for their kids. And often we think if we don’t talk about dying, it won’t happen! Life is complex and with blended families the decisions as to who will raise the kids if you are not around gets complicated.
Best choice, an adult sibling who lives nearby, but that is not always possible. Talk to family members and friends about who you would like to raise your kids. Grandparents may not be the right choice because of their age, but if there is no one else then ask them. Your 70-year-old mother has lots of energy and enjoys your 6-year-old twins as they ride their bikes on her driveway. But at 80 could she handle teaching two 16-year-olds to drive?
Losing both parents is not a common occurrence, but it happens often enough that we all know of someone who either lost their parents or who is raising someone else’s kids. When you have children you need to plan for their safety and well being.
Your will you could create a trust for your children when they are minors so there is something in place to handle the finances if you should die. And you would name someone in the will to act as trustee.
Of course, life will go on if you don’t do estate planning, but with a little planning on your part, you can make things easier for those you leave behind if something should happen to you.
A simple will could cost $300 and the more complicated wills could cost thousands of dollars. There are TV ads that tell you can get software that helps you do your own will but I am not a big fan of do it yourself estate planning.