Planning For Your Children

We love helping you plan for your children, whether they are 2 or 25.  As your kids grow, your concerns for them will change.  This is why we not only plan for every stage of our life, but every stage of your children’s lives.  A common theme in our practice is that “one-sized-fit-all” plans do not work, especially for families.  

Our goal is for a more practical, and down to earth, approach to Estate Planning.  We help parents face their fears.  We know these are not easy thoughts or conversations to have with another.  Only another parent can understand that.  It is very hard to not only contemplate your own death, but to realize that your kids may be out there on their own, without us.  Such thoughts can even prevent parents from calling an attorney, to get their paperwork drawn up. But, luckily, as parents are getting wiser and more savvy, they are taking charge of their lives and planning for all uncertainties.  

When you visit our office, we think about the contingencies.  We ask questions about your life.  We plan for your children. 

We start by breaking down the antiquated legal lingo so parents can truly understand what is happening.  We make drawings, use graphs, and do whatever we need to do, so that parents walk away feeling empowered to make decisions. 

Are you Wondering if Your Family Needs the Benefit of Estate Planning? 

Simply schedule a free phone consult.  When you have children, you transition from “simple” estate planning to what is known as “complex” estate planning.  That does not mean it is complicated.  It is a higher level of planning for your children.  

You would do anything for your kids.  Why stop short when it comes to long-term planning?

Planning for Children Under 18

There is nothing quite like a parent telephoning and saying, “We need to do something for our kids.  We are always worried about what will happen if something happens to us.”  It is an awesome responsibility for us as a law firm to take on these parental concerns, and it is a job we do not take lightly.

It is undeniably an honor to be able to help these families get their plan created.  And we can help your family too.

We make drawings, use graphs, and do whatever we can so parents walk away feeling empowered to make decisions.  We remind parents that if you do nothing, your kids will receive all you have left to them at the age of 18.  That is very young to receive their inheritance.  Also, without a trust in place, the courts would have to appoint a Guardian of the money.  Do you really want a stranger telling your children what lessons they think are appropriate or deciding where all of the money is spent?  We encourage you to name trustees that know you, your kids, and are there to not only safeguard them, but allow them to blossom into kind of people you see them being, or have the life you want them to have.

Planning for Children Between 18 and 30

As your children age, you become less concerned about naming guardians and more about their new independence.

Most parents still believe that 18 is still too young to receive an inheritance.  Unless you have a trust in place, however, your children will receive their inheritance at 18.  To prevent this from occurring, it is best to form a trust that will protect the money (and, therefore, your kids) from creditors, bad marriages, and from bad decisions.  

Once children hit 18, parents lose some rights as to obtaining medical records and healthcare decisions.  It is important that you speak to your children about their new responsibilities.  We offer packages for children over 18 so that they may designate Health Care Surrogates and enter into a Living Will and HIPAA Release. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns

Should I nominate family or friends?

There are many things to consider.  There is no correct choice.  However, before you believe you have found your candidate, or think it is easier, to just name you parents, think about these considerations:

  • Parents.  Keep in mind as your children get older, so do your parents.  Can your parents discipline a teenager in their old age?
  • Siblings.  Introducing a cousin into an established family leads to some challenges if your child has access to resources (for e.g., through parent’s life insurance) that are not available to natural children of guardian.
  • Friend.  Sometimes this seems like a great option, depending on your family, but you will not have the benefits of family ties to smooth the road.

We are not planning on dying anytime soon, should we still get a Will?

All we are doing is planning.  We do not want you to die either!  We want you to live long, happy and most importantly, peaceful lives.   Get some “peace of mind” planning accomplished.

We have no idea who can serve as guardians for our kids. Should we fail to plan just because we don't know who to choose?

Many parents get caught up because they cannot find a candidate suitable to take on the important role of being guardians for their children.  As they cannot find a perfect candidate, they delay making any choices.  That delay turns into never taking action.

When you choose a guardian for your kids, there is hardly a “best” option.  Rather, you pick the “least offensive” one.  No one will ever be good enough, share same parenting style, do things just as you would, etc.  

And what’s the alternative to naming no one?  Someone else will do it for you, and people that you definitely do not want as guardians, may get that role.  Check out my blog about my Kid Care Package.

Won't my family decide who will take care of my kids?

The amount of family conflict and fighting that may occur if you leave them with major decisions and no guidance is something your children should not have to witness.

If we die, it should all go to our kids. So, what's the problem?

Children cannot inherit property over $15,000.  Thus, if you leave them property, the court will have to appoint a guardian (this person may be a stranger), and then your child receives it all at 18 years of age, which is very young.

What if I hurt someone's feelings by not choosing them as guardian?

Write them a nice letter and put it with your Will explaining your actions. They will read it after your death and it will likely smooth things over. If there are negative things to say, then say them too. Save a copy of the letter for your Personal Representative also. You want the Judge to fully understand why you did not pick the obvious choice, so that the Judge can consider it in the event your guardian choice is contested.

What if husband and wife cannot agree on guardian nominations?

We send a survey that asks them to contemplate what is important to them such as religious beliefs, amount of money the guardians have, how cultural they are, and we go from there talking about the options.

What if I want to change my guardian nominations later?

You can easily do that. Plus, guardianship forms come into play if you are incapacitated as well.

How should I distribute money to my kids?

When you create a trust for your children (either revocable, or a testamentary one inside of your Will), your children will obtain income in their growing years for education, care, support, etc. At some point, you will want the Trust to end and the children will get outright distributions. You choose the date(s) for this to happen.

Some choices are:

  • Distributions at 30, 33 or 35
  • Distribution upon college graduation, or around 23 years of age
  • Distribution upon marriage

Think of yourself at the times/ages in question. Would outright distributions of cash been a good or bad thing? There is no right answer. All you can do is what you feel best. Perhaps you want your child to have money available to buy a house or start a business. Perhaps you want the money to be accessible only when they are more mature. You may also want to protect their money from their own bad investments, creditors and divorce.

Will my kids have money to live before the time of the "official disbursements?"

Yes, the trustee will give them money for food, shelter, clothing, education, etc.  At a certain age they will receive the “income” from the trust as well.  You have also give the trustee the power to make distributions or special gifts upon certain happenings, such as a marriage, new baby or new house.  

Disclaimer:  The Law Office of Lori Vella’s website contains general information directed to Florida residents.  This firm does not intend to give legal advice through its pages and/or blog.  If you need legal advice, we encourage you to find an attorney licensed in your state.  This language on this website website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and this firm. Review our legal disclaimer page.