Family 411: Thinking about estate planning while your kids are young

    (Sinclair Broadcast)

    What would happen with your kids should something happen to you? It’s a question most parents don’t like to think about. In this week’s “Family 411”, Megan O’Rourke found out why putting it off could have serious consequences.

    With two young daughters, Kim Estess spends a lot of nights reading, hoping the simple life lessons make an impact. But as an attorney who specializes in estate planning, she knows not every story has a fairy tale ending.

    That’s why she’s made it her professional mission to work with young parents and help them prepare for the worst.

    "It's the most important thing you can do as a parent, but there are so few young families that actually do it. I think it's just such an easy thing to forget about... because nobody wants to think about it. The idea of death or getting really gravely ill, that's having to face your worst fear... so nobody wants to,” Estess said.

    But putting it off could have devastating impacts. That’s why she says meet with an expert, get your legal documents in order, and have the peace of mind. That way you know your family is protected. A good place to get started is with a will. That document will allow you to establish who would get physical custody of your children, should something happen.

    "A lot times people say, 'well my parents will just do it, we don't need to have a will to put that in place.' But say you're a married couple, you have two sets of parents."

    Another important document to think about is a trust.

    “Imagine you have a million-dollar life insurance policy and then you have two young kids. Suddenly, they’re each coming into $500,000 when they turn 18,” Estess said. “If you don’t do any planning, that’s where you would end up.”

    With a trust, you can set stipulations about when your children get access to the funds and for what purposes it can be spent. That document allows a designated person to make important decisions on your behalf, should you be injured or killed.

    A power of attorney is also important for both financial and medical.

    That document allows a designated person to make important decisions on your behalf, should you be injured or killed.

    "It's not fun to talk about, but just getting it done. Then you know you have a plan in place, you know your wishes are going to be carried out for each of these scenarios and you can just have the peace of mind of knowing it's done."

    For help with legal documents, experts say it’s best to find an attorney who specializes in “estate planning”. Typical costs range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

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