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Have you made these plans for your children?

You might think of senior citizens when the term "estate planning," comes to mind but they aren't the only individuals who need to have their affairs in order. All adults should take the time to get things together, but it is especially important for parents of young children to have essential documentation for important decisions.

As you think about what might happen if you were to pass away, you can start to figure out some of the most important decisions you have to make. While your children are still minors and living at home, most of the things you will think about have to do with them.

How will your final expenses be handled?

When you pass away, you need someone to be in charge of your funeral and burial. Make sure that you have a life insurance policy or other arrangements for this to be taken care of. If possible, you should make plans with the funeral home to ensure that your wishes are known. You can also leave this information in a letter of instruction for those who are left to make these arrangements.

What would you like to take place if you are unable to make decisions for yourself? It is important to have powers of attorney designations. You can also have a living will or advance directive so that the medical team knows your wishes if you can't relay them yourself.

The person who has the health care power of attorney will make decisions about things that aren't covered in the living will, but they also ensure that the points you make in the living will are honored. The person who has financial power of attorney will make monetary decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.

Who will care for the kids?

You must make plans for your children if you aren't around to raise them. This includes appointing someone as guardian for the kids. If you have more than one child, you need to do this for each child. They can all have the same guardian, or they can have different ones, depending on the ability of the individuals you name.

On top of the guardianship designation, do what you can to provide financially for the kids. This can be handled through the use of trusts, but you also need to plan for other financial matters like checking and savings accounts. These can be transferred to the person of your choice, including the children's guardian, through use of a payable on death designation.

Ask questions so nothing is left dangling when you're not here, causing a lot more stress and work on your loved ones when they deserve the time and space to grieve. Knowing that your children will be taken care of might provide you with some peace.

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