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Five Steps to Better Protect Your Kids

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One of the most important steps you can take toward providing peace of mind for yourself and security for your children—and their inheritance—is to create or update your estate plans.

Changing your estate plan is relatively easy. You can revoke your current estate planning documents and have new ones prepared, or you can amend your existing documents. Your attorney can advise you on which option best meets your objectives.

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What is a codicil? A codicil is a legal document written by your estate planning attorney that changes specific provisions in your will but leaves all other provisions unchanged. An amendment can change provisions in your living trust.

Here are five estate planning updates affecting your children that you should make immediately:

  1. Have a guardianship plan. Name a suitable guardian for your minor children in your will. In most cases, your spouse, if you are married, will raise your children if you pass away first. But, are you considering that he or she could remarry? In the event that your spouse dies while your children are still young, do you want his or her new partner to raise your children? If there is someone better qualified to do so, make your desires known now.
  2. Protect what belongs to your children. Make sure your assets and property pass to your children. Spell out in your estate plan the specifics of distributing assets so your children, rather than a former or second spouse, receive what was earmarked for them. Remember, assets aren't only items with financial value. Sentimental items like heirlooms and family photos can be noted in an updated estate plan to pass to your children as well.
  3. Safeguard minor children. If you have minor children, consider placing the assets you want them to inherit in a trust until they are old enough. This prevents court battles if a judge has to name someone as their conservator.
  4. Name a new executor/trustee. If your children are of the age of legal majority, you can appoint them as executors or trustees, or you can choose a trusted friend or member of your family.
  5. Update beneficiary designations. Life insurance, annuities, retirement benefits and IRAs are usually payable to a named beneficiary and do not pass under the terms of your will or trust. Check these documents to see whether you need to complete new beneficiary designation forms, adding your children's names or a trust for their benefit, to make certain assets are left to your intended heirs. These are also tax-smart vehicles for supporting your favorite charitable organizations, such as Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, Inc..
Remember: Life changes. Once you take these steps, make sure to regularly update your wishes as your circumstances change.

Don't Forget Your Favorite Causes When Updating Your Estate Plan
In your existing plans, you may have made specific gifts of property or assets that you no longer own to charitable organizations like TMH Foundation. Update your plans to reflect these changes so the causes you care about most aren't left out.

Discover the many different ways you can use your estate plan to support the most important people and organizations in your life.

Where to Find Assistance
Your estate planning attorney is the best resource when it comes to updating your plans. If you're interested in supporting Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare through your estate plans, we would be happy to work with you and your advisors to find a giving option that works for you. Contact Paula S. Fortunas at 850-431-5752 or

Copyright © The Stelter Company, All rights reserved.

The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.