Whether by accident or by design, you may find yourself raising your children on your own. Even if the other parent is involved in your children's lives, you shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for their health, safety and well-being.
You spend every day caring for them and making sure they have what they need. You may even work more than one job to make ends meet. Without a doubt, you deserve accolades for your devotion to your children. However, what would happen to them if you passed away unexpectedly or suffered an injury or illness that kept you from caring for them?
Who would take care of them?
When creating a will, you have the opportunity to appoint a guardian for your children. Of course, the state will first look at the other parent if he or she is living regardless of whom you name in your will. You may be wondering why you would bother even naming someone else if that's the case.
What if the other parent can't take care of the children or refuses to do so? Then your nomination becomes crucial. This could prevent someone you never would have wanted to raise your children from becoming their guardian.
Who would take care of the finances on behalf of the children?
If you have minor children, they cannot inherit property under Alaska law. Therefore, you need to address what happens to the assets you intend for them until they reach the age of majority. You could create a revocable living trust that you can administer during your life, make changes if necessary and add or remove assets from it as you see fit.
Once you pass away, your successor trustee will manage the trust assets on behalf of your children. You can stipulate how any distributions from the trust provide for your children while they are minors, along with how they will receive distributions as adults. Essentially, a trust would allow you to know that your children get what they need even in your absence.
Other estate planning considerations
You may also want to have powers of attorney and advanced health care directives in place so that your children will be cared for if you become either temporarily or permanently incapacitated. If you have a retirement account or life insurance policy, you may want to make the beneficiary of those accounts the trust that you set up. This will also help safeguard any proceeds intended for your minor children if you pass away.
Every family is unique, and your estate plan should reflect that. Attempting to create a plan on your own could jeopardize the security of your children if something happens to you. It may be worth the extra time, money and effort to work with an attorney who can help you create the plan that works best for you and your children.