School is back in session, and that means it’s time to get a plan in place – and I don’t just mean a lesson plan. With shopping for supplies, class schedules, and attending school functions likely dominating your to-do list, it’s easy to forget about one of the most important factors for keeping your child secure: naming a guardian in your estate plan.
Children change from year to year as they mature from infants into teenagers; because your children’s lives are constantly evolving, guardians that may have been appropriate a few years ago may no longer be the right fit.
Is the person you previously appointed as your child’s guardian still the best choice?
Other questions you may want to ask yourself: Do you have an after-school babysitter for your children? What would happen if you didn’t come home today? Who would your child’s caregiver call?
All of these pressing matters and more should be detailed in a comprehensive plan that provides directions to a babysitter and the school, naming local guardians and providing authorization and guidance to that person.
In honor of “back to school” season, below is a refresher course on the key factors to address when reassessing, or even creating, an estate plan and guardianship designations. Consider it your official homework assignment.
Review and refresh guardianship nominations
Is the guardian you’ve chosen for your children in the event something happens to you still the person you would want to fill that role? If so, are they still available to do so — and would your children be satisfied with this choice of guardian?
Review and refresh intent letters
If you’ve used intent letters or other informal guidance in your estate plan to provide additional meaning and context to your guardianship designations and other estate planning documents, make sure those are reflective of your current values, goals, and wishes.
Review and refresh (or create) emergency authorizations for your children’s care
You have health care directives and powers of attorney for yourselves, so why not makes sure these are in place for your children? It’s critical, particularly for kids in college, to have authorizations in place for their care in case, heaven forbid, something happens to them while they are away at school.
Review and refresh your estate plan
It’s always a good idea to keep your estate plan as up to date as possible. The addition of a new child to your family by birth or adoption may mean your plan requires substantial changes. This is also the case if one of your children has turned 18. If either of these events occurred since our last assessment of your plan, it is imperative that you don’t wait to make any necessary alterations to your plan.
Review college savings plans and strategies:
Do you have a child who is preparing to attend college in the coming years? It’s important to explore various planning strategies to help financially plan for the cost of tuition and help your family make strategic choices about higher education planning. It’s never too early to begin researching scholarship opportunities if you have a child already in high school.