ESTATE PLANNING – WILLS FOR THE YOUNG PARENT.
Most young people do not think about executing Wills. They usually owe more than they own. This can especially be true for the young married couple.
When they have a child of their own, it is time for some thoughtful consideration of their child's future. If something happened to them, who would care for their child.
Tom and Nancy were married and had a child, Max. Nancy had been raised in a very strict family. Her parents were affluent. She had a difficult relationship with them – they had not approved of her selection of Tom as a husband, nor of her choice of a profession – social work. Nancy did not look upon her childhood fondly – she felt that it had been too strict, her parents too judgmental and controlling.
Tom's family was large and easy going. He had a great childhood and a really close relationship with his brothers and sisters and his parents. Although they live in another state, Tom and Nancy see them frequently and check in with them weekly on the telephone. Tom's choice to be a teacher made his parents proud.
Tom and Nancy did not execute a Will – they had little – a new home with a mortgage, cars with loans, little in the bank. If asked, both Tom and Nancy would have desired that Max live with Tom's parents or one of his siblings if anything were to happen to them. This was not written down. Tom and Nancy were killed in an automobile accident when Max was only five years old.
Since they lived locally, Nancy's parents immediately took Max into their care. Additionally, they filed Probate proceedings for Nancy's estate and for Guardianship of Max. While Tom's parents also requested to be considered for Guardianship of Max, they were out of state and had few monetary resources. Issues for the court to consider included whether it would be good for Max to be removed from the school and the community that he lived in to be taken across the country when there were relatives here ready and willing to raise him.
How could this have been avoided?
Tom and Nancy should have executed simple Wills. While a young couple may not have many monetary assets to worry about, their most important "asset" – their son – was at risk. A Will sets forth who a couple wants to be the guardian and the conservator of their children in the event of their death. While most never face this situation – it does happen. It is worth taking the time to make provisions for children in the event of their parents' death.