People often think of estate planning as an exercise for the wealthy or elderly. The reality for parents is that estate planning is your opportunity to decide how the assets you gather during life will be utilized to shape your family’s future.
Your estate planning opportunities are not limited to cookie-cutter gifts to your spouse with the remainder left outright to your children. Instead, there are a number of tools available to help parents (a) set goals for their children, (b) protect assets from divorce or creditors, (c) utilize your assets as a start for their early retirement, or (d) decide who will get control v. income from the family business (it can be different if one child has a greater interest or propensity for running the business).
In blended families, parents with outside children often have a competing interest to provide for their surviving spouse while leaving a gift to their prior children. Sometimes these concerns are addressed by funding gifts through a variety of different investment vehicles. An estate planner can create a plan that gives the surviving spouse broad discretion to use funds during life but irreversibly leaves the remaining assets to established beneficiaries (e.g. prior children) after the surviving spouse passes.
In short, estate planning is a good planning tool for an estate of any size. For many people their home is the most significant asset they own. So why wouldn’t we expect it to be the most significant gift that our children will receive, and why wouldn’t we want to have a plan in place to ensure that our plans for our child survive beyond the accident of death? An experienced estate planning attorney can help you explore a plan that fits your family, your plans and your goals.