It is very important for every person to have an estate plan. This plan would include a Will and/or Trust, Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive. The need for these documents becomes even more important if you have minor children. In Pennsylvania, any asset that is left to a minor child is taken by the Court. This process is called a guardianship. The Court is responsible for protecting these funds and preserving the same until the minor child reaches the age of 18 years. At that time, the Court is then obligated to disburse all of the funds to the child. In many circumstances, providing assets to a child who is 18 years of age can result in the misuse of these assets. Without a proper plan in place, a guardianship will be necessary to address distributions to minor children.
You can, however, avoid the need for a guardianship. This can be done by establishing a testamentary trust in your Will. This trust can appoint an individual to manage the assets for your children. Typically, this is a family member who has the skills necessary to manage the funds. In addition, you are also permitted to designate a distribution schedule that insures that the funds distributed to your child will be done so in such a way as to avoid their misuse.
Another reason why an estate plan is so important with minor children involves their care and custody. In Pennsylvania, a parent is permitted to designate a guardian of the person. This guardian would be physically in charge of the children. Typically, this is a family member who has indicated a willingness to take on this responsibility. If you do not have a guardian of the person designated in your Will, the Court will make a decision as to where your children should live and who should be in charge of them.
If you have questions concerning minor children, call our office at 724-216-6433 or contact us via email on the "contact us" page.