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Charting Futures For More Than 30 Years

Is estate planning only for elderly parents?

Individuals of any age stand to benefit from creating an estate plan because it provides a family with guidelines for what to do in an emergency. Oftentimes, estate planning for elderly parents occurs when it is too late. An older parent may have already suffered from a serious illness and need documentation to help direct his or her medical treatment. 

Waiting to create a will or trust until an unexpected emergency occurs may not allow for making effective family plans. Without carefully written instructions, a spouse, adult children or other relatives may not have the authority to begin taking over an individual’s affairs. If someone becomes incapacitated, the Missouri courts may decide on how to divide property and assets or assign a guardian for minor children. 

How can parents choose the guardian to care for their children? 

Children left without parents who could provide for them may end up in the care of a court-appointed guardian. Not only does this affect a child emotionally, but it may also result in long-term effects such as trauma. By preparing a will or trust, however, a parent may decide on a suitable caregiver for his or her children. 

An estate plan that designates a legal guardian may provide instructions for the individual taking custody of the children, as noted by Kiplinger magazine. In the event of the testator’s sudden death or incapacitation, placing children in the hands of a stranger may cause unnecessary problems. Through discussions with a potential caregiver, a parent may include plans for a child’s education, religion and financial support in his or her estate planning. 

When does an estate plan require updates? 

An effective estate plan may need updates and revisions as often as an individual’s life changes. Generally, reaching a major milestone or goal may require altering a plan to meet any new needs. When minor children reach adulthood, a parent may wish to remove a named guardian and begin making changes to pass on property to the adult child.