Estate Planning for Families with Young Children:

Estate planning for families with young children is necessary to plan for the care and support of a child and loved ones. Planning for the care of a child or loved one, requires preparing for all contingencies, including the person or persons that will raise their children should both parents pass away and the use of assets in support of the child. To that end, more forethought must be given to planning to care for a child while also planning for their future once they reach adulthood.

Designating a Guardian for Your Children: When neither parent is able to care for a child, a Guardian must be appointed by the Probate Court to care for the child. A Guardian can be an immediate or extended family member, close family friend or, if no one is available, the state of Ohio will assume custody. To avoid the state of Ohio from taking custody of your child, it is important to designate in your will the individual(s) you wish to be appointed as Guardian(s). This one decision will have a lasting impact on your child.

Financial Support for Children: Another consideration is providing the Guardian with the financial resources to meet your child’s basic and long-term needs such as clothing, financing a post-secondary education, or other important life events. You may wish for the Guardian to have control and access over your child’s funds, under the supervision of the Probate Court, or you can designate an independent third party to oversee the management of the funds through a revocable living trust. In either case, the funds must be used to meet the child’s financial needs.

Additional safeguards are available when planning for your children after your death. For instance, just because your child is an adult does not mean that you would allow them unfettered access to a large inheritance without restrictions. In estate planning terms this is how parents can continue “parenting from the grave”. Although you may not be here physically, you can promote certain conduct by conditioning the payment of certain expenses, e.g. automobile, down payment on first home, college tuition, etc. based on your child’s conduct or achievement. For instance, often deceased parents will offer to pay up to a certain amount each year for the child’s tuition, room and board and books, so long as the child maintains a certain grade point average. The condition should be something important to you and be “measurable” (grade point average, joining the military, valedictorian, graduated top ten percent in class, volunteers for charity, etc.). With older children, deceased parents often have a scheduled pay-out (distributions to the child) based on pre-conditions or the child attaining a certain age, or a combination of both. Regardless, the values you wish to impart to your child can be reflected in your estate plan after you are gone.