4. Why You Need Guardians If You Have Young Children.

This is part 4 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know.

Why You Need Guardians if You Have Young Children.

If you have young children, the most important part of your estate plan is naming the guardians to raise your children if something happens to you and your spouse.

Typically, the guardians are named in the will. If the estate plan has a revocable living trust, the guardians are named in the pour-over will.

Naming guardians is not easy.  But if you have young children, you have to do it. If you don’t name guardians and something happens to you and your spouse, the court will have to decide who will raise your children.

Some of my clients have an easy time naming guardians. They have parents or siblings who are well qualified.

But many of my clients aren’t so lucky. They have a hard time deciding on the right people.

Here’s what I tell my clients who can’t decide on a guardian.

First. No one will be as good as you. No one is perfect (except you of course). If you are gone, someone you choose is better than the court choosing.

Second. The only people you can really choose from are those already in your personal network. Your network consists of your family and close friends. Some good. Some bad. Be realistic. Make the best choice of those in your network. That’s all you can do.

Third. You can always change your mind later. Most of my clients change their guardians every few years as their situation changes. You may meet someone with similar nurturing skills or your relatives may have matured into better parents.

Just know your choice is not permanent. Every decision we make today can only be made based on what we know today. If tomorrow changes, you can change your plan.

Knowing you can change your choice of guardians should take the pressure off. Your choice doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do need to choose.

Next up – Part 5. What if You Only Have a Will?

2. Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Here is part 2 my series entitled, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

If you have a family, a house or a business or you have assets you would like to pass down to certain people or charities, then you absolutely need an estate plan.

An estate plan will make sure there are enough funds to take care of your spouse and young children, often with life insurance, and it will name guardians to raise your young children if you and your spouse are no longer around.

An estate plan will make sure your hard-earned assets will stay in the family and will not be left for the state and federal government to tax and the court to distribute.

An estate plan will make sure your assets go to the people or charities you want to receive them.

An estate plan will include a strategy to manage your business if something happens to you.

An estate plan will make sure the person you want is authorized to manage your assets and affairs if you become incapacitated.

Next is part 3 – What if You Don’t Have an Estate Plan.

How to Choose a Career You Will Love

I often get asked by high school and college kids for career advice. Over the years, I’ve distilled it down to two steps. This is what I tell them:

There are two steps to choosing a career. If you do the work on each, you will exponentially increase your chances of having a career you will love.

First, identify people who do what you think you want to do and follow them around. Don’t stalk them, volunteer to help them for a month or two. Give them free labor in return for learning about their work.

I know what you’re thinking, duh, of course. But this obvious first step is often skipped.

How may college graduates jump to law school, business school or other graduate school and invest countless hours and money into their studies only to realize two or three years later that they hate being a lawyer, teacher, accountant or financial advisor? But now they’re in big debt and have lost two to three years of earning capacity.

Make a serious effort to shatter your misconceptions. Bring a big hammer. Find out what the work is really like by shadowing someone who does it. You will [Read more...]