FAQs About Estate Planning When Someone Dies

Who Will Be the Guardian of My Minor Children If I Pass Away?

If someone established a guardianship in their will the clause will typically only be enforced if both parents have passed away. A natural or adoptive parent will still maintain their guardianship of the minor child unless it has been taken away by the Court. If you are divorced and do not name your ex-spouse as the guardian of your children there is a good chance, if your ex- spouse out lives you, that they will be the sole guardian of the minor children. The estate planning documents of the surviving ex-spouse will then direct who the guardian will be at their passing. So the parent that out lives the other will have the most control and final say so over who will be the guardian of the minor children.

Of course you should still make your wishes known in your will as to who you want to be guardian of your minor children because you could be the parent that out lives the other. For example, you can name another close family member such as your sibling or parents. Naming someone is better than nothing at all. Unfortunately, at the end of the day it will be last parent to pass’s estate planning documents that will control guardianship of any minor children.

How Can Someone Ensure Their Property and Life Insurance Proceeds Will Be Passed on to Their Children?

The best way to ensure that your property and life insurance proceeds will appropriately go to your children is through the use of a trust. There are assets that have to transfer through your estate and there are certain assets that can transfer outside of your estate. Life insurance is not something that usually goes through probate. It passes outside your estate through a beneficiary designation. You could make the beneficiary your estate, but that would make the life insurance proceeds subject to paying debts of your estate and taxes.

If you have a trust set up, then you can easily avoid the probate process. All of your assets would be in the trust and clear instructions about how they should be transferred will be detailed in the trust. You can also make your trust a beneficiary to your life insurance and other assets. After you die, the clauses in your trust about who and how beneficiaries are to receive funds will kick in. In most cases, the spouse and/or children are the beneficiaries of the Trust. The question is then, who is in-charge of carrying out the directions laid out in the trust. In a trust you have a wide range of options to set parameters on when and how children will receive money. Most people elect to have certain age levels set for distributions to help prevent the chance of a young child having unlimited access to a large sum of money. Having a proper estate plan in place can help provide you peace of mind knowing that your family will be taken care of after your passing, and a trust is a great way to make sure all of your wishes are carried out.

To Revise Your Estate Plan call the Law office of Brian M. Douglas for an initial consultation at (770) 933-9009 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.