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50 percent of parents don't have a will

Planning for your child’s future begins the moment that you learn you are going to be a parent. You prepare the infant’s room with bright colors, cute clothes and soft comforts. You research the best daycares and preschools. You might establish a 529 plan so you can get started on saving for their college education.

Young parents arrange for many events, both expected and unexpected. One potential event does not get as much attention as it should. Many parents fail to answer the question “what happens if I am not here to care for my child?” In fact, only about 50 percent of parents in America have a will, according to a 2012 survey conducted by RocketLawyer.

Every parent should have at least a basic estate plan that includes a will. This document allows parents to designate a legal guardian for their children and provide direction on how and to whom they want to distribute their assets.

A trust can be a very powerful and flexible tool for parents with minor children. It allows them to include property for the benefit of the child. It can set restrictions on when the child can access the funds or limitations on the amount of a distribution. You can hold property earmarked for specific life events, such as a college education or marriage.

In addition to a will or trust, parents should consider a health care proxy, durable power of attorney, revocable trust, life insurance or joint ownership arrangements for property.

Every family in Miami is different, and their estate plan should be as well. Each of these estate-planning tools provides different benefits and protections. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to make sure your plan fits your family’s needs.

Source: Value Walk, “Four Tips For Creating Your Financial Legacy,” March 30, 2015

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