Smart Parents Plan Ahead: 5 Steps to Secure Your Child’s Future

Life is unpredictable. Fact.

Have you thought about what would happen to your children if something happens to you? This is something no parent wants to think about. In today’s scenario, no parent can guarantee that they would be around forever to take care of their child’s financial needs.

I hope we all live to a ripe old age and witness all the milestones in our children’s lives – graduations, new job, wedding, child birth etc. Yet, for those of us who have been faced with life’s eventualities, we know how realistically important it is to be prepared.

In Nigeria, stories abound of how children were trafficked or thrown on the streets after the demise of a parent or parents just because there were no legal plans made as to the welfare of those kids.

“Putting off the will-making process is a risky strategy which means that parents are ultimately playing Russian Roulette with their child’s future,” warns solicitor Claire Currie, a partner at Kirwans law firm.

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Before you come to any legal decisions as to the care of your children, it’s best to discuss with your spouse, if you are married. And it doesn’t matter if you are single, as long as you have a child, you need to make these plans.

So let’s get started:

Step #1: Legally Document Your Guardianship Decisions.

As parents, the last thing we would want if something happens to us is for our children to be put into a situation in which they feel scared, unloved and surrounded by people they don’t know.

Imagine your kids are taken to live a relative you do not approve of just because you made no plans as to whom should look after them in case of any eventuality.

Don’t ever put your children’s care to chance. Legally document your guardianship decisions. Make a will.

No one can replace you; however, if you are not here to parent your children, you should be the one who decides the person who has the goals and values to take over.

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Step #2: Ensure your Children Don’t Receive Their Inheritance at Age 18.

If parents leave an inheritance to their children outside of a trust, a court will have no choice but to manage it until the child obtains age 18. At age 18 the children will receive complete access to all the remaining assets—outright and totally unprotected!

Ironically, the child would receive such assets during the year in which his or her parents would most likely have wanted their child to begin a college education.

Step #3: Let those designated as guardians know how you want your children raised.

As a mom, I know that there are certain things that are critical to me when it comes to the way my children are raised, such as the spiritual foundation I want them to have, the sense of financial responsibility I want imparted to them, and the educational path I want them to take.

The only way to ensure that your children will be raised with your values is to make them clear to the people you’ve named as Guardians if they are ever called on to serve.

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Step #4: Provide enough financial resource.

Too many families especially in Nigeria, consider insurance a waste of money, but do not have enough in savings to care for their children in the event of an emergency.

Do you want your children to attend University? What kind of lifestyle do you want your children to have if you can’t be there to financially support them?

You could open a savings account for your children as soon as they are born. And religiously deposit funds in it that should not be touched, unless in cases of emergency.

Remember, you are responsible for ensuring sufficient financial resources to support your children upon your death.

Step 5: Store Your will in a safe place.

Once you have completed your will, you should consider the individuals who should have access to your will and/or be made aware of its existence. This is a very personal decision and one for you to decide.

You can share a copy of your will with anyone you choose: your appointed guardian, family members, friends, religious leader, accountant or even your child.

If you’re concerned about leaving your original will in your family home, the bank is a great alternative option.

We need to talk about death, and we also need to prepare for it. Because without a will, there’s no way of safeguarding your children’s future after you’re gone. And that really is something to keep us awake at night.

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