As a parent, the last thing I want if something happens to me is for my children to be put into a situation in which they feel scared, are surrounded by people they don’t know and don’t know just how much love I have for them. With these 3 Secrets you can guarantee your children will always have the security of knowing just how much you love them – even if you can’t tell them.

Secret #1: Put in Place a Clear Plan for the Protection of your Children — 74% of parents have not named guardians and of the 26% who have, most have made 1 of 6 common mistakes that leave their kids at risk. With a plan in place that names short- and long-term guardians for the care of your children and gives clear guidance to your caregiver and everyone you’ve named to care for your children, your children never have to be put in a situation in which they would be taken out of your home and into the hands of strangers if something happens to you.

Secret #2: Legally Document Your Decisions— Parents regularly tell me that they have discussed and agreed upon a guardian for their children and have even made their wishes known to their families; however, not documenting your decisions can result in your wishes not being followed when it is too late. If you don’t communicate your wishes in a legally binding document, you are placing your children in the middle of a situation in which every family member has equal priority of guardianship and the decision about the care of your children will be left in the hands of the court system and a Judge who doesn’t know you or your kids. Legal documentation is particularly important if you intend for a friend to care for your children as courts will almost always choose a family member over a friend.

Secret #3: Provide a Foundation for Your Children’s Financial Future— Whether it’s through life insurance, savings or some other means, providing sufficient financial resources for your children’s care is your responsibility. And, as a responsible parent, you must take steps to protect what your children will receive. To do so, establish a living trust to receive any life insurance benefits your children would receive so that they don’t get access to your assets at the age of 18 and make sure your living trust holds title to any assets that would go through probate in the event of your death. And, if your estate is large enough, you will want to plan to avoid estate taxes as well.

I encourage you to contact Paula, our Client Services Director, if you have not taken care of these three issues.  She will schedule you for a Family Wealth Planning Session with me, West Michigan’s ONLY Personal Family Lawyer™.  We will discuss what would happen now, what you would want to happen, how to fill any gaps between the two, and whether we are a good fit to work with each other.  I continue to appreciate the dedicated readers of my blog and want to support additional readership.  So, I will waive the typical fee for the Family Wealth Planning Session ($750 value) for three people who call to schedule a session and specifically reference this blog post.  My schedule continues to fill up quickly, so I must limit this to first come, first served.