How to Protect Your Young Children in Your Will
While a Will is an important end-of-life issue, it is also a document that would behoove you to have created well before a time you might anticipate dying. One of the most important reasons for creating a will at a relatively young age is if you have small children. If you should die before they are legally adults, it is important to dictate an avenue for their care until they reach eighteen years. Parents of young children should have wills that specify their wishes for the child's care should they die.
You (and the child's other parent, if there is another legal guardian) should name a "personal guardian" in your will. This person named will raise your children until they are legal adults. This person can also be named as the "property guardian" (or Custodian or Trustee) of any property you leave to your children. The property guardian will manage the property until the child inherits the estate at age 18. A custodian will manage the estate until the child is older; 18 in a few states, but more typically 21 or 25 years old. A trustee will manage your property if you have tied it up in a Trust instead of left it in a Will. If you are leaving your estate to your children through a Trust, you can specify the age at which they are to inherit. Estates left in Trust can either be set up individually so that each child has his own trust, or as a collective "pot trust."
If you do not want the personal guardian to run your child's financial issues as well, you can name a second individual as property guardian so that one person is responsible for raising your children and another is responsible for managing your property for them until they are old enough to legally inherit your estate. People may choose a different personal guardian and property guardian for their children if, for instance, you want your children reared by someone with good parenting skills and you want their future property managed by someone with good financial or business skills.
It is possible, and also totally legal, to disinherit a child; that is, to purposefully exclude them from your will. However, courts are sensitive to this issue and may step in if there is evidence that an accidental disinheritance has happened. An example of this would be if you have another child after your will is completed and you do not update it to include that child. It is possible, in these cases, for the disinherited child to claim part of your inheritance.
How to Create a Will
Should You Have a Will?
How Elaborate Should My Will Be?