estate planning ain’t for old folks

I recall hearing the words ‘estate planning’ about 15 years ago.

I thought “Geez….that’s for old people.  Glad I don’t have to worry about that!”

Famous last words.

The truth is that if you have kids, and if you own a house, you need a plan.  Without a plan, your assets get tied up in probate, people fight over it, and the kids may end up with nothing after the attorneys work it all out.

Also, without a plan, your kids may have to liquidate the house because estate taxes will crush them.  Avoid all of this with a solid plan.

An estate plan explicitly calls out who gets what when you pass.

God forbid that both you and your spouse pass, but the plan details what happens in that situation.  Who takes care of the kids?  Who handles the money for the kids?  By the way, it’s never recommended that the person caring for the kids also handles the money.

What happens if the first in line to care for the kids gets a divorce?  Who gets the kids then?

What happens if you pass before your spouse and he/she gets remarried?  Are your kids’ portion protected?  With a solid plan, you can ensure that they at least get your half.  Unfortunately, it happens more than you’d like to know that the new wife’s kids get everything, while your kids stand on the sidelines with nothing and no one to fight for them.  LAME and sad.  Have you ever wondered why some kids in a Brady bunch family are private schooled while the others are attending public school?  Hmmm….

There are so many issues to discuss.  It’s an emotional discussion with even more emotional decisions to be made.  We started our plan when our first-born was still in my belly.  It felt silly at the time, but we knew that it would take us at least a year to get through it all.  It took us two years…and not without some intense discussion between ourselves and with our family members.

Be prepared for feelings to be hurt.  But be honest with each other and make your decisions based on what’s best for your children.


About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.


  1. Meesh, couldn’t agree more! Estate planning sounds so fancy (and expensive) but it truly is so vital. Even if someone has nothing but their kids they should do something to make it known who they want to take care of their kids. For the majority of folks, an estate plan should include a Last Will & Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney (that goes into effect if you become legally incapacitated), an Advanced Directive (often called a Living Will) and a Health Care Power of Attorney (that has nothing to do with managing your money and everything to do with speaking for you should you be unable). For the health care stuff, most hospitals have pre-printed forms they use so if money is a concern there is, at least, an option to get a basic form.

    And because life changes, these documents, too, should be updated (or at least looked over) periodically to make sure they reflect the current state of affairs.

    • imeeshu says

      Sara, thanks for your additional insights. All important stuff. Our Advanced Directives certainly changed after having kids…just try to keep me alive a little bit longer. 🙂