Starting a family opens a whole new world of future possibilities. With all the joy, stress and new responsibility that come with caring for young children, what will happen to your estate after you die is likely the last thing on your mind, and you are not alone. According to a 2017 survey by Caring.com, 78% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 36 have not made a will.

However, even if you are young and healthy, making an estate plan is essential if you have financial assets or property that you want to benefit your family should the worst occur. Even more importantly, a will lets you designate a trusted guardian to care for and raise your children if something happens to you and your spouse.

What does a will do?

A will is a legally sanctioned document that allows you to designate:

  • A guardian to care for your children if they are still minors
  • A personal representative to execute your will and handle estate assets and debts
  • Which beneficiaries should receive estate assets
  • Whether estate assets will pass directly to beneficiaries or through a trust

What happens if I do not have a will?

If both you and your spouse are unavailable to care for minor children and have not made a will, the court must choose a legal guardian for them, as well as a personal representative responsible for distributing your estate. Additionally, if minor children inherit assets, the court may place those assets in a guardianship account until your children come of age.

From providing for your kids financially to ensuring that they will be in trusted hands if the unthinkable happens, it is never too soon to put a plan in place. Whether you are just starting a new family or already have dependent children, a solid estate plan may help you gain a little more peace of mind about their future.