One of the common misconceptions about estate planning is that it is not for everyone, and only those families who are wealthy or have assets that can be invested should engage in proper estate planning. This is simply not true. Estate planning and proper family legacy planning is imperative for every family regardless of how young, how old, and how much assets the family current holds in wealth.
In this context, every family needs a Last Will and Testament, commonly referred to as a Will, in order to properly protect their family and their assets at their death. However, even more important than simply protecting your family and your assets at death, those families with small children should also, at the very minimum have a Last Will and Testament.
For instance, within your Last Will and Testament, and other disability legal documents, such as the durable general power of attorney, you have the ability to name a guardian over your minor children. If you do not have your wishes stated in your Will and power of attorney on who you wish to have guardianship over your children in the event of your death, then your families will have to go to court and begin a guardianship proceeding over your minor children in the event that you and your spouse both pass away.
For instance, the guardianship of your children simply does not pass to your closest relatives, such as your parents if they are living, or your siblings. If you do not state your wishes in regards to the guardianship of your minor children at your death, then your surviving family members will have to go to court to obtain guardianship. In addition, what if both sets of parents are still alive and both you and your spouse pass away? I am sure you would not want to think about the prospect of both sets of grandparents fighting over who will obtain guardianship and custody of your minor children in the event that both you and your spouse pass away. Nothing is worse than the irreversible damage of broken family relationships and the effect of those damaged relationships upon your minor children.
If you and your spouse simply name a guardian of your minor children in the event of your death, then this possibility of your parents having to go to court to obtain guardianship over those minor children will never occur. For this simple reason, it is very important that every family, regardless of wealth, especially if they have minor children, engage in proper estate planning and family legacy planning