Having a will helps protect families, children

(WWBT) - When it comes to protecting children, it helps to think about even a worst-case scenario.

It's tough to think about dying and leaving your kids behind, but some preparation beforehand could make a big difference later on.

Experts say planning for your family in the case if your death is one of the most important things you could do to protect your kids and your wishes for how they are raised.

Simple steps can ease the financial and legal headaches that come on top of the grief of losing one or both parents.

When approaching the topic, there are two major issues to consider.

The first is who will take care of young children and who will manage the estate.

Scott Stovall, of Cowan Gates, said a will answers both those questions and is why it is beneficial to have one on file.

"It doesn't have to be a long, daunting process," Stovall said. "The more important thing is people get hung up on what they want to, so they end up never even having a plan in place."

When choosing a guardian who would may day-to-day childcare decisions, it is also a good idea to have a back-up option in place. If a couple is chosen, it's important to make sure you're comfortable with either person watching the children alone and not just as a team.

The age of the child is also an important factor how the will gets executed.

"Legally, if your child is under 18 years of age, they can't have possession or control of their assets," Stovall said. "You need someone who can oversee that."

A child is eligible to receive money and benefits at 18, but some parents elect to use a trust to manage the funds through the child's college years.

No matter the decision, it's important to make sure it is one that works for everyone in the family.

Another important aspect of a will is to clearly indicate where the assets meted out by the document are and how they can be obtained, including user names, passwords and answers to relevant security questions to those who will be handling those affairs.

Without that information clearly stated, the process to gain control of the assets can be lengthy.

"The time delay that it takes for them to hunt down those assets and then go through the court process so they can use them to actually take care of your child is a huge time delay," Stovall said.

Wills can also address the potential of future children that have not yet been born at the time the will is written, so there is no need to re-write it each time your family expands.

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