J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Estate plans are important for everyone, including children

Many Florida residents unfamiliar with estate planning probably think it is reserved for the elderly or the wealthy. Both of these are untrue. In fact, estate planning is important for anyone who has the chance of getting sick or dying, which includes every person on the planet -- even children.

It is prudent in many cases for parents to begin thinking about their children in regards to estate planning. Many children are given savings, investments or assets of some kind. No matter where these assets come from, it is oftentimes a better idea to not allow the child to have direct ownership of them. Rather, these assets could be put into a trust where they will be protected. A trust prevents the child from recklessly handling the assets while they are young, as they will not legally be the trustee until they are 18.

Once a child turns 18, there are additional steps in the estate planning process worth considering. Prior to when the child turns 18 parents are the child's legal representative in matters involving health care. When the child reaches 18, there is no guarantee that parents will be able to make health care decisions should the child fall into an unconsciousness or illness. By setting up a health care proxy or health care power of attorney, parents can ensure that health care wishes are carried out should something unfortunate occur.

As becomes apparent, estate planning is something that can benefit people of all ages and income brackets. Everyone has interests involving health care and the distribution of assets. Estate planning can help to protect these interests and ensure that family members are taken care of.

Source: The Patriot Ledger, "MAKING CENTS: Estate plans are not only for the elderly," John Napolitano, Feb. 2, 2014

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