November 6, 2019
November is National Adoption Month!
Taking Care of Your New Family Member
National Adoption Month is aimed at raising awareness about the adoption process and the children who need permanent, loving homes. Each year thousands of children are adopted and throughout the years they bring much joy to their adoptive families. If you are in the process of adopting, have recently adopted a child or are considering adoption, then now is a great time to create or update your estate plan.
All Children Are Treated the Same
Generally, if you are an adoptive parent, legally adopted children are treated no differently than biological children in your estate planning documents, as well as the estate plans of adoptive grandparents and other family members. If you do not have an estate plan in place, there are several factors to consider when a new child—adopted or biological—comes into your life. Even if you already have an estate plan, it is important to review it to ensure that your wishes for your new child are fully addressed.
- Appoint a guardian. Most adoptions involve minor children which means that in order to ensure that your new child will be cared for if something should happen to you, it is important to appoint a guardian (i.e., a caregiver in your will). Because this person will act as your child’s parent if you become disabled or die, it is important to choose someone who will love the child and is willing and capable of taking care ofthem in a way that is congruent with your wishes. It is also wise to name an alternative guardian in case the first person becomes unable to care for your child at some point in the future. Be sure to obtain their consent to act in this role. If you fail to designate a guardian, the care of your children will be left in the hands of an individual appointed by a court—who may not be someone you would have chosen.
- Consider a trust. If you are adopting a minor child, chances are you do not want your child to receive their entire inheritance at 18 years old, should you die before that point. By creating a trust, you can choose a trustee to watch over and use the inheritance for your child’s needs according to your stated wishes. In addition, if your adopted child has any special needs, a special needs trust can be established to provide funds for the child’s care without making the child ineligible for government benefits.
- Make sure property and money are distributed as intended. It is important to carefully consider what you would like each child to receive and to make any necessary adjustments to your estate plan. You want to ensure that your intention for the overall distribution of your estate is very clear.
Celebrate Your New Arrival by Planning for the Future
Choosing to share your life with a child is a wonderful thing! Whether you have just adopted a child or adopted years ago, it is crucial to ensure that your estate planning documents indicate the money and property you would like your child to receive, when they should receive it, and indicate who you want to act as a caregiver for your child if something should happen to you. Give call us to set up an appointment so we can help you create an estate plan that best addresses your growing family’s unique needs.