Tag: child

Do You Need an Estate Plan If You Have No Children?

If you have no children, you might wonder if you even need an estate plan. It might seem like a waste of time and effort to make one when you do not need to protect any children. You might be surprised to learn, then, that there are many other great reasons for people without children to make an estate plan.

  1. Pass on Your Wealth to Chosen Heirs

Without an estate plan, all of your money and property will get distributed through the process of intestate succession. Intestate succession means that a spouse and any close relatives will most likely inherit your entire estate. You might, however, want to leave inheritances to others besides close relatives. Some people choose to donate part of their estates to charity, while other want to leave gifts to friends and valued colleagues. Also, you might want to consider how to grow your wealth over time.

Estate planning is a straightforward way to accomplish these goals. You can sign a will, create a trust, or set up other estate planning structures to grow and pass on your wealth. Once the structures are in place, you will have peace of mind about what will happen to your assets after you pass away. Also, you can leave a legacy for the future even though you do not have children.

  1. Settle Your Affairs

Moreover, estate planning is not just about leaving money to children or spouses after you die. Powers of attorney and medical advance directives have become an important part of many people’s plans.

If you do not have a close family member like a child around to make decisions if you cannot, then setting up powers of attorney is a good idea. They allow your chosen agent to act on your behalf in areas that you choose, such as financial or medical affairs. Advance directives and living wills can specify your medical treatment and end-of-life wishes too. These documents help protect your well-being and financial health, and they are simple to set up with a lawyer’s help.

In sum, there are many good reasons to begin an estate plan if you do not have children. If you would like to get started, reach out to a local estate planning lawyer for help.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Updating Your Estate Plan When You Adopt or Foster a Child

If you have recently adopted or started fostering a child, you may need to make changes to your estate plan. Including a new child in your family could have altered your wishes for the future. You should consider doing a comprehensive review of your plan and potentially amending several key documents. You may need new estate planning documents too. 

How Does Adopting or Fostering Affect Your Plan?

When you adopt a child, you add a new member of your family. As a result, you may want to leave part of your estate to the child. You also may need legal protections in place for the child in case you cannot care for him or her.

When you foster a child, you do not formally adopt the child. He or she still becomes an important part of your family, and you may stay in close contact in the future even if the foster placement ends. You may want to include your foster child in your estate plan, and you may need temporary legal protections in place to protect him or her as well.

Comprehensive Review of Your Plan

When you confirm an adoption or foster placement, you should do a comprehensive review of your estate plan. This includes reading through your will, trust, and other documents to see if your wishes have changed. You may want to do this review with your lawyer. Also, you should contact your lawyer after the review to prepare any new or revised documents that you need, such as an addendum to your will.

New Estate Planning Documents

In addition, consider whether you need any new estate planning documents. You might want to start a college savings plan for your adopted child, set up medical directives for yourself, or begin forming a trust in favor of your child.

Estate planning can help you plan for your new future with your child or foster child. You can protect him or her and document your wishes for your estate. Doing a full review of your estate plan to make any necessary changes after the adoption or foster placement is a great idea.

Want to make changes to your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Updating Your Estate Plan After the Birth of a Child

After the birth of your new child, you probably need to update your estate plan. The update will address one simple issue: your current estate plan does not include your child. It may be out of date in other ways too. To protect your child in case anything happens to you, get started on the changes as soon as possible.

Including Your Child in the Estate Plan

When you start reviewing your estate plan, you may realize that it needs more changes than you thought. For example, you probably want to include your child in your will. You may have a trust benefiting your children that should include your child as a beneficiary. And your powers of attorney and other existing estate planning documents should reflect the fact that you have a child.

To update these documents, you need your lawyer to prepare either addendums or new versions of the documents. You should speak to your lawyer about the necessary changes and make sure you sign the new documents when ready.

In addition, you may need new estate planning documents prepared. Many parents decide to incorporate the following:

  • Guardianship designation to specify who should take care of your child if you cannot
  • College savings account such as a 529 plan
  • Life insurance
  • Additional estate planning for themselves, such as medical directives

Protecting Your Child Through Estate Planning

Even if you do not update your estate plan, the law may protect your child from being disinherited altogether. But don’t take that risk. It is usually straightforward to add your child to important documents such as your will. Doing so can provide peace of mind that your child will have financial stability even if you are not around.

Signing new documents such as a guardianship designation provides additional peace of mind. You will want someone in place to care for your child if you cannot. And you need a plan in place to protect your child, just in case. Updating your estate plan is a great place to start.

Want to update your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Updating Your Estate Plan When You Have New Stepchildren

When you welcome new stepchildren into your life, you may need to update your estate plan too. With the addition of new family members, your estate plan might not reflect your wishes anymore.

Which Updates Do You Need to Make?

The updates you should make to your estate plan are similar to the updates you would make if you just had a baby. This is true whether you just married the stepchildren’s parent or if the children have recently come to live with you. In addition, you may need more changes if you recently got married to the stepchildren’s parent. For example, you may need:

  • A will that includes the stepchildren
  • A guardianship designation for each stepchild
  • College savings, like a 529 plan
  • More life insurance

You might also want to expand your estate plan to include medical directives, powers of attorney, and other documents that allow others to make decisions if you cannot. These estate planning structures protect children in your life by maintaining stability even if you are not the one making the choices.

If the stepchildren do not live with you full-time, you may not want to include them in your estate plan yet. Or maybe the children are older and live independently, so a gift in your will is more appropriate. Also, consider talking to your partner, husband, or wife about his or her estate plan. Perhaps your significant other needs to make a plan that protects the children, even if yours does not.

How Do You Make Changes to Your Estate Plan?

The easiest way to make changes to your estate plan is to talk to your estate planning lawyer. You may need addendums written for your documents, or you may need new documents prepared. Your lawyer can quickly and efficiently prepare the correct documents to carry out your wishes.

Be sure to ask your lawyer if he or she recommends that you add any additional estate planning structures. For example, a trust could lower your potential gift and estate tax liability. It also allows you to leave property or money to chosen beneficiaries either during your lifetime or later on. When you have new stepchildren, you will want to take advantage of helpful planning opportunities for the future.

Want to make changes to your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Will Your Child Turning 18 Matter for Your Estate Plan?

As your child grows up, his or her eighteenth birthday could affect your estate plan in surprising ways. If you didn’t realize that this milestone would affect your estate planning, you may want to review the possible changes that you can make.

Your Child Becomes a Legal Adult

Because your child becomes a legal adult on his or her eighteenth birthday, certain protections in many estate plans no longer apply. These include:

  • Guardianship designations
  • Custodians and trustees to safeguard minors’ inheritances
  • Rules restricting minors’ ability to be beneficiaries of retirement plans and life insurance

Many parents include guardianship designations in their estate plans in case their children need someone to care for them in the absence of the parents. While guardianship designations are not binding on the judge who ultimately selects the guardian, they provide helpful guidance. Once your child turns eighteen, he or she may no longer need a guardianship designation. If your child has special needs, however, then you may want to keep the guardianship designation in place.

In addition, your estate plan may include provisions that appoint custodians or trustees to manage money for any minors who would inherit. These provisions will become unnecessary when your child turns eighteen. The same goes for restrictions on minors’ ability to receive payouts from life insurance or retirement plans.

Changing Your Estate Plan

Once you review your estate plan, you may realize that portions of it need changes because of your child’s birthday. For example, you may want to rewrite your will to give inheritances directly to children rather than their parents or custodians. Or you might need to change your beneficiary designations on a retirement plan or life insurance.

Further, some children need additional protections because they have special needs. You might want to set up a special needs trust (SNT) for your adult child who has significant medical costs or trouble with personal care. Estate planning offers the opportunity to plan for both your and your child’s future.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.