Being a parent is like becoming a mind reading, lie detecting, poker playing FBI negotiator whose children often confuse with eight armed genies wearing invincibility cloaks. World Parent Day recognises these vital roles parents play in raising children in a loving and understanding environment. If something happened to you prematurely, you can put things in place to ensure, as much as possible, your children are looked after.
Here are our top 5 mechanisms for continuing to provide a loving and understanding environment for your children after your passing through a thoughtful estate plan:
- People & Relationships – choosing the right people with the right skillsets for the right job is fundamental. A key relationship for minor children is their guardian. Ideally, this person is emotionally willing to provide your children with unconditional love and support. Practically, this person may have the resources to take on additional children in their household. A guardian may also work with someone in a financial role – like a trustee who is caretaking your estate for your children until they turn an appropriate age. This person may have a more business-like approach, reflect your investment views or philosophical approach to financially supporting your children. These relationships are grounded in trust – trust that these people will endeavour to look after your children as you would have. For this reason, more than one person may be appointed to not only share in the decision making but as a check and balance to each other.
- Financial Structures – you have probably worked very hard for the nest egg you are leaving your children. While reluctant to “rule from the grave”, you also don’t want your children’s eyes to light up like it is Christmas when they turn 18 and spend your nest egg on frivolity, plastic surgery and sports cars. You can put in place structures that appoint someone to make financial decisions on your children’s behalf (a trustee) – from how much money they get, when they get it and for what purposes. Over time, your children can be educated to make mature financial decisions by themselves. Moreover, you can put in place structures that are tax effective, asset protective and flexible that can benefit multiple generations so that your nest egg can become a family legacy.
- The Home – is where the heart is and you can tailor provisions surrounding your children continuing to live in the family home or when it can be sold. You can also put in place provisions enabling your children’s guardian to renovate their home to accommodate your children.
- Special Gifts – it could mean the world to your children to receive a sentimental gift from you – be it your wedding ring, a family heirloom or even photo albums.
- Memorandum of Wishes – this is separate document to your Will and can provide guidance to your children, their guardians and trustees on how you would have raised your children. It can cover anything from your dreams, aspirations and wishes for your children to their education, familial relationships, religious practices and use of their inheritance. Whilst all your trusted people may have the best of intentions, they may have differing opinions on how you would have raised your children. Putting your wishes down on paper can be like a philosophical and moral “road map” so there can be no doubt as to how you would have acted in certain circumstances, if you were still around.
It can be really scary facing a world without you in it and considering exactly how your children will go on without you. So don’t leave it all to chance if the unthinkable happens and let Aitken Lawyers give you peace of mind.
By Camille Broadhurst, Aitken Lawyers
This article contains general information and is prepared without taking into account your specific objectives. Before acting on the contents, you should obtain specific legal advice in relation to your own circumstances.