Two-Year-Old Granddaughters and Estate Planning

My entire immediate family was in town for the last five days. My three children, my son-in-law, and my one grandchild–a two-year-old girl with lots to say and not enough words to say it.

Now actually, what I just wrote is true and not true at the same time. What I just described is that part of my immediate family that has my blood flowing through its veins (no, my son-in-law, doesn’t, but you get my point). I also have four sons by marriage, three daughters-in-law, and four more grandchildren, plus two very much on the way. I love them all and treat them as my own. That part of my family–colloquially known as my stepfamily–presents estate planning issues, issues I’ve discussed elsewhere and which I’ll return to in the future.

But today it’s that two-year old. She’s sparked some thoughts on the nature of estate planning. Sure it’s about the immediate future. I want my wife taken care of should I die. I want to pass something on to my children. I was to avoid taxes if possible. And on and on. But what about the two-year old? What do I do about her, if anything?

My daughter, her mother, turns 40 a month from tomorrow. Forty years old. Her little girl won’t be 40 for 38 more years. Will my estate plan be durable and well-thought-out enough to have an impact on her life? I most likely won’t be around then to make it happen. So what can I do?

Two thoughts come to mind: trusts and life insurance. Both tools have more permanence than I do. If set up and funded properly, both can be there when I can’t to make sure my hopes and dreams for my granddaughter are fulfilled. Yes, I could rely on her parents–and I might–but if I absolutely, positively want my hopes for her fulfilled, trusts and life insurance are the tools of choice.

How are you going to insure that your dreams for your family come true?

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