A common client for me, especially through my contacts with the Parent Connection in San Diego, is the young married couple with minor children.

Let’s take a typical example: Donna and Ken (not their real names!).

Donna and Ken are both approximately 30 years of age. They have been married for four years, and are pregnant with their first child (this is second trimester planning). They own a home that’s currently underwater but expect to have equity soon as the market rebounds. All told, their combined estate has approximately $250,000 in total assets, not including life insurance.

Their primary concern, especially as the pregnancy progresses, is nominating a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate, for their child.

I have four possible plans to offer this couple, depending on their current financial liquidity and their concerns for their child.

First, I could provide them with Simple Wills containing guardianship provisions. They leave everything to their spouse, or to their children equally at age 18 if their spouse pre-deceases them.

Second, I could provide them with the Simple Wills along with incapacity documents (advance health care directive and durable prower of attorney for property management).

Third, I could provide them with a testamentary trust: They leave everything to their spouse outright, but if their spouse predeceases them to a testamentary trust (either a pot trust or a separate share trust) until their youngest child becomes 25. This plan comes with the AHCD and DPA for no extra charge.

Fourth, I could provide a complete estate plan, including a revocable living trust, incapacity documents, funding the trust with their personal residence, etc.

Based on their ability to pay (plans range from $300 for the simple will through $2,000 for the complete estate plan for a couple under $5M) and their willingness to involve themselves in trust funding, my clients will be served to varying degrees with any of these plans.

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