Kids Safeguard Planning - Protecting Your Kids
At the Socius Law Firm, we have developed an expertise in planning for the well-being and care of children should the unthinkable happen. We call this advanced legal planning – Kids Safeguard Planning.
Kids Safeguard Planning is based on the premise that a Will alone is simply not enough to protect minor children should both parents die or become incapacitated.
If you are a parent of minor children, your estate plan needs to include a Kids Safeguard Plan to ensure your children will always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, and never put in a situation you wouldn’t like.
What Would Happen to Your Kids if the Unthinkable Happened to You?
Without advanced legal planning, unthinkable events can (and do) take place:
- Your children could be placed into the care of the Department of Children & Families… even if you have a Last Will & Testament in place… and even if you have a Revocable Living Trust (which can be completely avoided with Kids Safeguard Planning). Likely this circumstance would be temporary, but during traumatic times, children are always better off with familiar friends or family members as opposed to strangers, no matter how safe and capable.
- Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never choose, such as the one family member who may have good intentions, but you would never want raising your kids (which can be completely avoided with Kids Safeguard Planning).
- A Judge, who doesn’t know you or your family, will decide who will raise your kids, even if it is the last person you would ever choose (which can be completely avoided with Kids Safeguard Planning).
- A long and nasty custody fight could ensue or there might be a challenge to the guardians you have designated (which can be completely avoided with Kids Safeguard Planning).
- Up to 5% of the value of your assets could be lost to court fees and other unnecessary costs through the probate process. Probate can tie up your assets for years and deprive your kids of the resources they need to live comfortably (which can be completely avoided with Kids Safeguard Planning).
- When your children reach the age of 18 and receive payment for any remaining assets, unscrupulous people can take advantage of them.
Yes, these things scare us too. That’s why we offer a Kids Safeguard Planning with every estate plan we do for families with young children.
Appointing a Guardian - Kids Safeguard Planning
Legally appointing a guardian is one of the most important parts of the Kids Safeguard Plan. Parents should choose a primary guardian as well as a backup guardian in case their first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in the role of guardian. Your appointee should understand what they will need to do as a guardian and be willing to raise your children if you pass away.
Parents can avoid conflict overall by appointing a guardian and setting aside money for your guardian to use to care for their children. What happens when two sets of grandparents are pushing to become the guardians? By selecting one set of grandparents in a clear and unambiguous way, parents ensure that their wishes will happen. Or, if parents would like a friend to act as their guardian instead of family members, they can state that in the guardianship documents.
Your Children Could Lose Assets During the Probate Process
During the probate process, a Massachusetts judge will supervise the disbursement of assets. A judge will authenticate your last will and testament and distribute your assets to the people you’ve named as beneficiaries in your will. If you do not have a will, the court will disperse your assets to your heirs according to the Massachusetts laws of intestacy. The probate process often takes between twelve to eighteen. Your children could become stuck waiting to receive assets from your estate for a significant amount of time during the probate process.
When parents do not have Kids Safeguard Plans, their estate will go through the Massachusetts probate court process. The more money your children can keep, the more assets they will have to live comfortably and pursue their education and goals after you’re gone. As the creator or grantor of the trust, you can design a set of conditions that will work for your family and your goals.
The probate court process is not only lengthy, but it also costs money. In many cases, estates lose 5 percent or more of the total value of the assets of the estate due to the probate process. By subjecting your estate to the probate process, you could deprive your kids of essential resources that they need to live comfortably. Many of our clients who have minor children opt to create a trust-based estate plan to avoid probate altogether.
Creating a Continuing Trust for Minor Children as Part of a Kids Safeguard Plan
The main benefit of creating a trust is to avoid probate. Avoiding probate can help your minor children access the funds in your estate quickly. The ability to access funds as soon as possible will help them live comfortably while they transition to their new normal. Creating a living trust as part of your kids protection plan can be extremely helpful.
When you create a trust and transfer your assets into the trust, your estate will avoid probate and you will be able to control your wealth for the benefit of protecting your children’s future. Transferring your assets into a trust can also help protect your assets from your creditors. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can help you create a trust that meets your goals and protects your children. We can help you name a trustee who will manage the trust for the benefit of your children.
Parents have wide leverage when it comes to creating the terms of the trust. Many parents choose to allow the guardian of their children to withdraw a certain amount of money each month. Parents can choose to arrange for the remaining assets to be transferred to their children on their 18th or 21st birthday, or after the children meet a milestone, such as graduating from college.
Working with Socius to Develop a Kids Safeguard Plan for Your Minor Children
Unfortunately, most estate planning attorneys do not thoroughly address kids’ protection nor properly plan from the parent’s perspective. The Socius Law Firm, however, offers comprehensive Kids Safeguard Planning to protect children from the above circumstances with every estate plan we do for families with minor children.
Our Kids Safeguard Planning component includes a specific set of instructions and legal documents. If you are in an accident, your Kids Safeguard Plan will help to make sure your children are never taken into the custody of Department of Children & Families or anyone else you would not want. These clear instructions inform the Police and ensure your children will be raised by people you have selected.
Questions Our Clients Often Ask
At the Socius Law Firm, we believe estate planning is a process where you design a blueprint that:
- allows you to control your property when you are alive and well
- enables you to control how your & your loved ones are cared for in the event of incapacity
- allows you to control how your assets are managed, used and passed in the event of your death
- enables you to save every last tax dollar, professional and court cost.
While this is typically accomplished through a set of estate planning documents, it is crucial to keep in mind that estate planning is not only about the documents themselves. It is about making a series of informed decisions and taking a series of thoughtful actions, all of which are designed to ensure that in the event of your incapacity or death, things will transition in the way you would have hoped, with the least disruption possible and with minimal or no intrusion by the court.
Learn more about the Socius Law Firm's unique 6-Step Estate Planning Process.
Both a Will and a Trust are useful estate planning documents, but understanding their differences will help you decide which is right for your particular estate planning objectives and personal circumstances.
Find out why a Will alone may not be the best choice for you and your family by viewing our side-by-side comparison chart.
As the foundation of the modern estate plan, a Revocable Trust helps you control how your assets are managed and used while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after you die.
A Living Trust enables the coordinated distribution of all of your assets, while maintaining the greatest degree of asset control and flexibility - both during your lifetime and after death.
There are many important benefits of Trusts beyond federal and MA estate tax considerations such as:
- Avoiding probate and ensuring a smooth transition
- Protecting assets
- Planning for incapacity or disability (without Court oversight)
- Controlling distributions to beneficiaries (give what you have…to whom you want, the way you want, when you want)
- Maintaining 100% privacy
We offer four levels of comprehensive estate planning - each highly customized to meet your unique family situation. Plan fees are dependent upon your personal values, goals and objectives.
From starter plans primarily for families with young children and little in the way of financial wealth, to more robust plans for well-established families who want to avoid probate, provide asset protection and eliminate or minimize estate taxes, we offer estate planning levels to meet your needs and objectives. Estate planning fees generally range from $1,200.00 up to $8,500.00 on the high end for an extensive estate plan. We also offer several advanced estate planning options for those who need even more planning.
At the Socius Law Firm, we have established a unique estate planning process where we listen and learn about you, your family and personal circumstances, thoroughly explain the estate planning options available to you and custom design, implement and maintain a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your specific concerns, fears, goals and objectives. Our process is designed to ensure your confidence at each step along the way, from the initial planning meeting through the delivery and implementation of your completed plan and beyond. The ultimate outcome of our estate planning process is to give you peace of mind.
We all like to put off important tasks and wait until the very last minute, this includes estate planning. There is always “something” that would be more fun to spend time doing or money on. However, honestly there are few things that are more important and none that are a better investment for yourself and your family. Take the first step….
Probate is a process whereby the Probate Court supervises the transfer of assets from a person who has passed away to the new lawful owners.
Probate is generally a long, frustrating and expensive process. Much of our practice is devoted to using trusts and other planning tools to help our clients avoid probate altogether. However, for families who did not do probate avoidance planning, we are frequently hired to guide them through the probate process.
If you become mentally incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition the Probate Court to declare you legally incompetent.
This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the Probate Court every year and show how they are spending and investing the money.
If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you without Probate Court interference, you must designate a person or persons that you trust with the use of a Durable Power of Attorney.
A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. Without a Health Care Proxy, your loved ones would have to petition the Probate Court for authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
In addition to a Health Care Proxy, you should also have a Living Will which informs others of your preferred medical treatments such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill.
At the Socius Law Firm, we have developed an expertise in planning for the well-being and care of children should the unthinkable happen. We call this advanced legal planning — Kids’ Safeguard Planning.
Kids’ Safeguard Planning is based on the premise that a Will alone is simply not enough to protect minor children should both parents die or become incapacitated.
If you are a parent of minor children, your estate plan needs to include Kids’ Safeguard Planning to ensure your children will always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, and never put in a situation you wouldn’t like.