Editor’s note: Liz Seymour is a stay-at-home mom and author of ‘Moms and Money,’ a new clark.com series focused on helping moms establish a solid financial plan and better understanding of household finances — all while juggling the endless duties of a stay-at-home parent.
We have three children, the first two of which are sweet, polite and very helpful. The third is five years old and plans to be a rock star when she grows up. She also recently asked for a full-length mirror for her room. Many friends and relatives have commented to us that we ‘needed’ a child like her. They’re probably right, and I will admit that she is a source of endless amusement for us.
Importance of planning for the future
We’ve had to consider who among our loved ones might also ‘need’ her – and the other two – in the event that Tim and I are no longer around to guide her toward this rock star dream… or just adulthood.
Determining guardianship, and planning your estate, can be some of the more surreal moments of your life, but these things are also really important. You may feel as though you barely have two pennies to rub together, let alone anything that qualifies as an ‘estate,’ but unless you are content to let the government dole everything out (including your children), you’d best get to planning.
Don’t just assume… Be absolutely sure how your assets will be passed on
You might think that by virtue of being married, your spouse automatically inherits everything. Turns out, this depends on where you live, as the law varies state by state. When you die without a will, the state decides who gets what. Given that 80% of people ages 35-44, some 50% of all married people, and 41% of people ages 55-64 have no will, the state is going to be busy. Chances are, they don’t have the same ideas as you, either.
Likewise, you need to be very specific in naming guardians for your children while they are minors. Nolo recommends further considering whether or not the person you name as guardian is best suited to also take charge of the finances. Many times, those of us most capable of providing loving, stable care for children aren’t necessarily the most adept at finances. So long as the two parties can effectively communicate, it’s just fine to name separate people to be legal guardian and financial trustee.
For our part, we’ll choose one who can best keep the sequins and karaoke in check.