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DuPage County estate planning attorneysOne of the most important purposes of estate planning is safeguarding the best interests of minor children. If you are a parent with a child under the age of 18, you should be aware of your options regarding guardianship. Although it can be incredibly difficult to think about, all parents should consider who they would want raising their child or children should something happen to them and/or the other parent. In the tragic case that parents pass away before their minor children, an estate plan will dictate who will have legal guardianship of them as well as address inheritance benefits. While it can be an emotional process, creating an estate plan gives parents peace of mind knowing their minor children will be cared for should the worst happen.

When Parents Pass Away Without an Estate Plan

When someone dies without a will, his or her property is divided according to Illinois law during probate court. Minor children can inherit property or wealth but are legally unable to receive the property or manage it before they are a legal adult. The inherited property is instead be managed by a legally-appointed guardian. If no estate planning documents addressing guardianship have been created, this guardian will be appointed by the court. Without an estate plan, it is possible that children’s inheritance and guardianship decisions will be in hands of strangers.

Options for Establishing Guardianship and Inheritance

There are many different ways to manage your children’s inheritance. One way is to establish a trust. A trust allows you to designate someone to handle wealth and assets which will eventually be given to your children. Trusts can be individually established for children, or a single family trust can be drafted. Through the trust, an individual or party is named as the successor trustee and will hold and manage property upon your death. Trusts allow you to decide how your property is invested, used, managed, and distributed to your children, not a court. Trust provisions that assign a reliable relative or friend to hold assets for your children can also be included in a last will and testament. You also have the option of appointing a guardian for your child through a Power of Attorney document.

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