One night shortly after the birth of our firstborn child, my husband threw me a curve ball: What would happen to our baby if something happened to us? This sleep-deprived and bleary-eyed new mama wanted nothing to do with the conversation. As nauseating as it was to talk through situations that would leave our little one without parents, I’m so glad that we did. Through our conversations, we decided to establish a family trust that would ensure that if we passed away, the decision on who would have our baby would be ours. Not a guess by the court system or a battle between family members.
At first it can feel impossible to put names in print of those that could even remotely care for your child(ren) the way you do. You should consider your family dynamics or close circle of friends, but most importantly select those who share your core values, will love your kids, and have a lifestyle most similar to your own.
The decision on who will raise your kids is just one of the many complex components you can place into a trust. Think of a trust like a box that you’ll begin to fill with a variety of important decisions and assets to protect them for the future. This makes it an easier transition when the contents of that box are passed along to your children (or any beneficiaries) when the time comes. You can add who will receive custody of your children, health directives (keep a copy of our medical history printable), your home, bank accounts, a business or anything else of value into this box. All of this can avoid sending your valuables through probate, a lengthy court process, when you pass away.Taking steps now will provide those you love with so much less stress in the future.
If you’re just getting started, a Google search will return a million links to attorneys who can help you sort through the options that are best for you and your family. If that feels overwhelming, there are a fair share of online templates that you can also look at to at least give you an idea of the types of decisions you’ll have to be making when you create your “box.” Keep in mind that laws can vary by state, which is why you’ll want to work with an attorney or get a solid legal opinion if you find any free online fillable forms. A financial planner is also a good place to start. They can minimize the complexity and direct you to the best place given your situation.
If your babies aren’t exactly babies anymore, it’s never too late to get started so that you protect them and your family’s assets. If nothing else, start talking. Begin by sharing your wishes with your partner. I’m thankful that my husband initiated this important conversation. We have a plan in place for the unimaginable, and the peace of mind that gives us is unexplainable.
Side note: This is in no way intended to be legal or financial advice, just some insight as to what we did and what you may want to consider for your family. I’d end with happy planning, but I know it’s not so happy of a process. Trust me, once you have documents signed and secured, you’ll rest easier and travel lighter knowing that your most precious resources will be cared for in the future.