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3 ways couples can plan to protect heirs

If you are part of a couple with children, then you probably worry at least daily about your kids in some way or another. A common worry for many parents is what will happen to minor children or dependents if something happens to either parent. Estate planning is one way that you can alleviate the stress of some of those worries.

Estate planning lets you plan financially for your children. It also lets you make provisions for their care should something happen to you while they are too young to care for themselves. One of the first things couples should do when making such plans is understand the financial requirements of raising children. If one spouse passes away, will the surviving spouse be able to raise the children? If both spouses pass away, will the children be cared for financially? One way to ensure both questions receive affirmative answers is to buy an appropriate amount of life insurance for each person.

A second thing you can do is choose a guardian for your children. If you don't choose a guardian and make that arrangement legal via binding documents, then the courts might pick for you. They might choose a family member or put your children into the foster system, which is something most people would like to avoid.

Finally, couples can work together with an estate lawyer to write a will or create trusts that ensure assets are left appropriately to children or other heirs. If you have a complex family with step children or other nontraditional arrangements, then your wills or trusts can become more complex, making it important to work with an experienced professional.

Source: Nerd Wallet, "5 Ways Couples Can Tackle Estate Planning Now," Barbara Marquand, accessed July 01, 2016

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