It is easy for families to become overwhelmed by all of the information being presented and the heavy topics that are addressed in traditional estate planning when planning for what happens after your death. At Sparks Law Office, P.C. we understand that the traditional process can be overwhelming. That is why we have created a different process, the legacy planning process, where we have short conversations about your goals.
To get our clients acquainted with the various points of conversation that we will discuss, we provide clients some talking points to consider. We equate these talking points to appetizers that you will be given before the big legacy meal.
Talking Point #1 – The Role of the Guardian.
- Generally, a guardian is effective only when both parents are deceased. The guardianship ends when the child attains the age of majority in the state which has jurisdiction of the child (for example, in Illinois the age of majority is 18).
- If the child is considered disabled because of a serious physical, mental or emotional condition, the guardianship can be arranged to continue beyond the age of majority.
- The guardian’s role is to act in your child’s best interests and is accountable to the court.
- The named guardian has the ability to hire the necessary expertise to carry out his or her responsibilities on your child’s behalf, for example, the hiring of an attorney, accountant, financial or investment advisor, physician, social worker, etc.
Talking Point #2 – Dividing Roles between Guardian and Custodian.
When we think about selecting a guardian for our child(ren), it can become overwhelming to think we need to find one person who can replace you entirely in the care and nurturing of your child(ren) and the management and oversight of their resources. The good news is that no one expects you to find someone exactly like you. Did you know that you can separate the care and custody of your children from the property that they own or are entitled to access? This allows you the peace of mind to select one person to love and nurture the child(ren) like you would, and another person entirely to handle their property, including any monies and investments they may inherit. If you can identify one person who possesses both sets of characteristics, consider yourself lucky!
Talking Point #3 – Selecting a Guardian.
The choice of a guardian for your minor child should be someone who knows you well enough to make decisions as you would, shares your values, has a compatible lifestyle, has a stable home environment, has good judgment, and has the time and interest to devote to your child’s affairs should the need arise for him or her to act as guardian.
Talking Point #4 – Gifting to Your Children over Time.
You can create a trust (either in a revocable trust or in your will) and name a trustee to manage the trust for the benefit of your children. This trust may allow distributions for your children’s health, maintenance, education, comfort and reasonable support. The trust can be established to make periodic distributions. For example, 1/3 of the trust can be distributed at age 25, then 1/3 at age 30, and the final 1/3 at age 35.
Talking Point #5 – Questions and Concerns Unique to Your Family.
Every legacy planning conversation is designed around you and your family. We understand that your family is unique and your goals are one of a kind. We appreciate getting to learn about you and your family. Do not be afraid to ask questions, share your ideas and goals, or discuss your concerns. Our firm is here to serve you.