Filling in the Blanks of Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning, Special Needs PlanningNo Comments

Do feel like there’s more to your children’s inheritance than money? Does your will or trust seem good but… not quite enough?

You’re right. A will and a trust are essential documents to have—especially if you have minor children—but there’s more to protecting your children than those documents. With those documents (plus a nomination of guardian, of course) you’ve provided for your children financially, but what about emotionally? After all, you’ve built a full life for your family and children, one in which they are comfortable and happy. Preserving (as much as possible) the comfort and stability of that life is at least as important as preserving your financial estate.

One of the best ways to do this is with a document called a memorandum of intent. A memorandum of intent is a letter that you write to the guardians of your children. This is a document that details the crucial minutia of your daily life. In it you can express the things that might be considered too small, or the things that change to frequently, to include in your trust—but are essential to the daily fabric of your life:

  • After-school activities
  • Names and phone numbers of your children’s “best friends”
  • Your preferences for religious upbringing
  • Unique holidays and traditions celebrated by your family
  • Pediatrician name and phone number (or other health-care providers)
  • Your discipline style and parenting resources you find helpful
  • Your children’s favorite foods, favorite toys, comfort objects

These things may all seem small right now, but it is these comfortable people, places and activities that will help your children through a difficult transition should tragedy strike. You can’t be sure that you will always be there to guide your children into adulthood, but you can be sure they will always know your hopes and wishes for them.

(*A memorandum of intent is not necessarily just for parents of young children. Memorandums can be especially helpful if you have a special needs child or are the caretaker of an elderly parent. Some people have even chosen to leave memorandums of intent along with a pet trust to the caretakers of their pets.)

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