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Do you have minor children? If so, you need an estate plan

When you became a parent, you probably reacted as most Ohio parents did -- you want to make sure you take care of your kids and protect them. Right now, this means seeing to their daily needs, planning for their future and more. You take your responsibilities to your children seriously and work hard to fulfill them.

However, what happens to your children if you pass away before they reach adulthood? You may not have given this much thought since you are young, or relatively young, and you have plenty of years ahead of you -- or do you? Accidents and illnesses can happen unexpectedly. Have you taken steps to make sure someone will care for your children if the worst happens?

What happens if you don't have an estate plan?

Without an estate plan, your surviving family members will have to go to court to request the appointment of a guardian for your children. This could take some time, especially if family members decide to argue over who should raise them. During this time, your children will not have any certainty regarding what will happen to them or where they will live. After losing their parents, this only makes an already bad situation worse.

In addition, they could end up with someone you never would have chosen. They could even end up with someone they don't particularly like or get along with now. You could easily avoid this eventuality by creating an estate plan and appointing a guardian of your choosing for them.

Parents of minor children need estate planning

In the unlikely event that you and the other parent pass away today, who would raise your children? Would it be someone you would choose? It may not be. For this reason alone, parents of minor children need estate planning. You can name a guardian of your choosing in your will. You have the power to choose someone you trust, has the same parenting style and understands how you would want your children raised.

When you do appoint a guardian for your children in your will, you need to make sure that it includes any children you may have in the future. This could keep you from having to change your will every time you have a child. However, you can list the names and birth dates of the children you already have at the time you create your estate plan.

Make sure the person you appoint is willing to serve

Another crucial step in this process is discussing the matter with the person you want to make the guardian of your children. You need to make sure he or she is willing to take on this responsibility. Even if you leave enough assets for the care of your children, becoming a guardian is an immense undertaking. You are asking someone to become a parent to someone else's children. Even if he or she loves your children, you can't assume they will agree.

Once you do choose a guardian, you may want to also let others in your circle know. This provides you with the opportunity to explain your reasoning, which could prevent unexpected tension later.

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