If you have minor children, they cannot inherit your estate directly when you die. If they were to inherit while minors, a Court supervised Guardianship would have to be set up to manage the estate. The Court would then decide who the guardian is, and control when, if and how the estate is used for the benefit of the children. The estate will then automatically be turned over to the children at age 18, whether they are ready for it or not. The cost of a guardianship is not inexpensive.

To streamline and simplify this, and let you make the decisions in advance, it makes sense to establish a trust will for the benefit of your children. This way you establish who the trustee is (a trusted family member or friend). You establish how the trust funds are to be used (for the children’s health, education and welfare). You establish when the funds are turned over outright to the children (age 18, 21, 25, etc.?).

If you have minor children, you can also decide and name who their guardian would be in the will. The guardian will be the person who would physically raise them and care for them after your death.

Drafting a will is an important and sometimes complex matter. It is a critical process that requires legal knowledge, informed decision-making as well as coordination with other estate planning documents. Although “do-it-yourself” forms and kits are available, they many not consider individual circumstances and relationships. A lawyer can assist and advise by analyzing individual circumstances and preferences, drafting valid documents, and avoiding pitfalls that alter intent.