Married with Children?  Basic Will Planning Concerns

Are you in your twenties or thirties, married, and have recently started a family?  Do not let the thought that you and your spouse may not have a lot of assets trick you into thinking you do not need a will.  There are many negative outcomes that may arise if you do not seek a get a will professionally written by an attorney.

First, under Georgia law, if someone who is married with children dies without a will, that person’s assets will be shared with with the surviving spouse the the surviving children (though the surviving spouse’s share will not be less than 1/3).  One cannot assume that everything will simply go to support his/her surviving spouse.  If it is your intention to have all of your assets support your surviving spouse until their death, then you need to have a will done.

Second, with a proper will, a person with minor children can designate who they would wish to serve as guardians of their minor children upon death or incapacity.  In the event the other spouse or parent is dead or incapacitated, this can be a very important decision.  As always, courts will look to the best interests of the minor child, but a person’s written preference will carry more weight than direct or close family members.  This is especially important if a child’s next of kin are aging grandparents with their own health concerns or siblings with personal issues that might not make them suitable guardians for your children.  Without a will designating your preferences, whomever ends up as guardians of your children could be left up to chance in a court of law.

Third, most couples with children who get executed wills are able to make use of placing any assets that end up going to their children under the control of a trust.  This trust for minors allows a trustee to provide payment for costs related to support, maintenance, education, healthcare, and other matters until a child reaches a particular age or milestone.  Parents can choose to have their children have full unrestricted access to the assets at the age of 25, 30, 35, or later, as well as include requirements that a child get a college education.  Additionally, parents with investment accounts (401k’s, IRAs, etc) and life insurance can list the minor’s trust as a beneficiary, which means that any of these assets would be subject to the same restrictions and conditions.  Without a will with a minor’s trust, a child will be able to have complete and full access to property when the child turns 18 years of age.

These are only a few major issues that arise in terms of basic will planning needs for couples with children.  There are many more that could exist given your particular circumstances.  Only by consulting with an attorney can you get a will that can properly address all of your needs and the needs of your loved ones.  Please contact the law offices of Boyce Larsen to schedule a meeting so that one of our attorneys may help you plan for your family’s future.