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Why Parents of Minor Children Need an Estate Plan

Posted by Judy Nakashima Shoji | Mar 03, 2020 | 0 Comments

Why Parents of Minor Children Need an Estate Plan 

Parents of minor children need to plan for the possibility they die before their children reach adulthood.  Minors do not have the legal status or cognitive ability to make decisions about their care and finances so an adult must act for them.  Two important concerns are who will care for and be the guardian of the children and who will manage the children's assets.  In most cases, the same person(s) can fill the role of guardian and money manager.  By planning ahead parents can have input on the choice of a surrogate decision maker and how much control and oversight the surrogate has.

Parents may nominate a guardian for their children in their wills.  Without prior planning, a court must appoint a conservator to manage assets for a minor.  Since a conservator must report annually to the court and post a bond for the value of assets being managed, the child's interests are well protected.  However, conservatorships have ongoing administrative costs.  Once the child turns eighteen however, the conservator must deliver the assets to the child.  Most parents do not want their children to have control over an inheritance at that age.

Fortunately, with basic estate planning a conservatorship can be avoided.  Parents can dictate who will care for the children and who will manage the funds for the benefit of their children within their wills.  This planning has options for the level of control the person has over the funds, either as custodian or trustee and allows you to decide at what age your children will receive their inheritance. 

About the Author

Judy Nakashima Shoji

Judy prides herself on being approachable, down to earth and willing to answer any questions hr clients may have. She is a Seattle native. She attended the University of Washington, Tokyo University and Seattle University School of Law. She was a legal intern in the Civil Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office and at Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company located in Shinjuku, Japan. Judy advises clients in all aspects of estate planning, probate and adoptions. She also serves as a Title 11 court appointed investigator in guardianship cases for King County Superior Court. She cannot think of any areas in which she would rather practice. She invests in learning about her client's whole story which creates a friendly environment in which she can provide more effective assistance. Her goal is for her estate planning clients to walk away with a customized, detailed, realistic, and clear estate plan which will accomplish their wishes. Estate planning can be uncomfortable and confusing and her goal is to explain complicated legal options in a way that is easy to understand and clear. Her desire is to provide peace of mind and clarity for her clients while also giving them the information necessary to make well informed decision. Judy has been a member of the Elder Law and Real Property and Trust sections of the Washington State Bar Association and King County Bar Association. She has been a volunteer attorney with the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Clinic and Pro Bono Services for the past 14 years where she was recognized as volunteer of the month in October 2014. Judy is married with three children. Outside of work she enjoys traveling to sunny locations, exercising (HIIT and barbell classes keep her grounded) and spending time with the people (and animals) she loves.

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