Many young couples in the greater Houston area may not think much about estate planning. For one, many couples who are just starting families have yet to build up a lot of wealth.
Moreover, they may think that they are years away from needing a will or other estate planning documents, especially if they are in good health.
However, there are many good reasons for Texas couples in their 20s and 30s to consider creating an estate plan, especially if they have or plan to have children.
Who will care for our kids?
No one really likes to think of the possibility, but sometimes, because of an accident or some tragic life circumstances, both parents will either pass away or suffer from a profound disability that prevents them from raising their children.
A good estate plan can make sure that, should this happen, the couple’s kids receive care from a person whom the parents know and trust to provide for them.
Texas law specifies what happens when a child is left an orphan or, for that matter, has parents who are disabled.
Basically, a child’s grandparents, or closest relatives, will be first in line to be appointed the child’s guardian and, thus, have the right to raise the child and manage the child’s property.
However, parents may designate their choice of guardian by making a will. If both parents die, the choice of the parent who passed away last will have priority when the court appoints the guardian.
Likewise, parents can also sign a written declaration nominating a guardian. A written declaration will apply if a parent suffers a legal disability that prevents him or her from caring for the child, assuming the other parent is not able to do so.
While there is no guarantee that a court will honor the parents’ choice, suggesting a guardian is still very important step for parents to take if they want to control who will care for their children if they are no longer able to do so.
Who will care for me?
For young couples just starting out, a simple will or even some other basic estate planning techniques may be enough when it comes to divvying up property should one member of the couple die.
However, an estate plan also includes other important documents.
For example, it is generally a good idea for any adult to have a power of attorney which allows someone they trust to manager their property and manage their business affairs, especially if the person is no longer able to do so.
A person may also wish to create a separate medical power of attorney, which may also be referred to by other names, in order to give a loved one power to make medical decisions on his or her behalf.
Of course, what documents an individual needs will depend on his or her own circumstances and legal situation. As such, the person should consider speaking to an estate planning attorney.