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Q: Is there anything special that parents of minor children need to do when they are planning their estates?

A: I’m still surprised when someone tells me that their children are grown, so now it’s time to plan. My initial thought is no, the time to plan was while your children were young.

Sure, changes may need to be made after they’ve grown, but planning for minor children is really important.

I’m not sure that anything special needs to be done, but it’s important to acknowledge that the kids are young and plan accordingly.

First, you need to decide who you want to be guardian of the kids if something bad happens. Deciding who should take care of your kids if you can’t is one of the most important decisions that you should make. In other words, you need to put in a lot of thought into it.

Remember that not everyone is cut out to be a parent. I’ve been a father for 19 years, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that being a parent isn’t for wimps. Parenting requires a level of patience that I never imagined that I had. I have developed a whole new level of respect for my parents.

Also, remember that not everyone is in a position financially to assume the responsibility for additional children. Kids are expensive, so whoever you choose should be able to afford it. Don’t get me wrong; money isn’t everything, but it should be a consideration.

Once you have decided on who should take care of your kids, the rest is easy. Simply inserting a minor’s trust provision into your will to take care of their inheritance should be enough. You can be creative with the terms, but make sure that you do something to put a responsible adult between a 16-year-old and a pile of money. Even if the pile is small, adult guidance is a must.

Once you choose a guardian and insert a minor’s trust provision, your kids should be okay.

Finally, for those of you who leave your children regularly with friends and family, you might also consider creating a medical power of attorney authorizing that person to make medical decisions for your child.

Our kids spent a lot of time with my mother-in-law, so we made sure that she had a copy of the insurance card and the authority to make medical decisions for them just in case.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

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