Adoption and Estate Planning: What You Should Know from a San Jose Estate Planning Lawyer

Blended families are common throughout the country. You might marry someone with children from a previous marriage or decide to adopt a kid with your spouse. Sometimes, couples choose not to marry but raise a child together. Whatever your situation, you likely want to protect your children’s financial future by consulting a San Jose estate planning lawyer.

It’s crucial to create an estate plan or modify an existing one immediately after adopting a child. Although an adopted child is seen similarly to biological children in many states, certain laws could prevent your adopted son or daughter from receiving the assets you leave behind. Other family members might fight against your final wishes if you don’t create a legally enforceable estate plan.  

Below are key elements, from our San Jose estate planning lawyers, you should consider if your estate plan involves adopted children.

Establish a Trust to Protect Your Assets

A trust is an essential part of estate planning. You can hold specific assets in a trust account to benefit a named beneficiary. When you die, the assets held in trust will transfer to the beneficiary according to the instructions you leave. For example, you could set up a trust to cover your adopted minor child’s care upon your death.

When you create a trust for an adopted child, you can ensure your assets remain protected. It’s best to leave detailed instructions regarding the management of the trust. You can designate a trustee to use your assets to pay for the cost of education, medical care, and other expenses if you pass away before your child turns 18. If you establish a trust for an adopted adult child, they could assume total control of the assets you leave them upon your death or receive them on a specified schedule.

Appoint a Guardian for Minor Children

If you have an adopted child under the age of 18, you should appoint a guardian to assume the role of caregiver if you die. The guardian you choose should know about the terms of the adoption and be comfortable with the family dynamic. Appointing someone as a guardian who won’t have your child’s best interests in mind can be damaging to their financial future.

A guardian can access the money and assets you leave to meet your child’s needs. Many people set aside funds for the guardian to use towards housing, food, clothing, education, and other essentials. You can also indicate how you want the chosen guardian to use your assets for childcare. For example, you might want to keep the environment as stable as possible and inform the guardian of your desire for your kids to remain in the family home.

Update Your Will

Once you adopt a child, they become a part of your family. You’re responsible for maintaining their physical and mental well-being. It’s crucial to include them in your will, so they have rights to your assets when you pass away.

A last will and testament outlines a person’s final wishes. You can use a will to indicate to surviving family how you want to handle various aspects of your life, such as:

  • Transferring assets to named beneficiaries
  • Naming a guardian for minor children
  • Choosing an executor to settle the estate

Any children you adopt should be in your will if you want the executor of your estate to distribute your assets to them. You should also indicate the specific assets they should receive and whether there’s a schedule the executor should follow when making the transfer.

Contact San Jose Estate Planning Lawyers

Expanding a family can be an exciting time in anyone’s life. When you adopt a child, you take on the responsibility of providing the care they need. Your estate plan should reflect your decisions regarding your adopted children’s future. Do not hesitate to contact our San Jose estate planning lawyers to discuss how to create an effective plan that benefits your adopted kids.  To schedule an appointment, call one of our law firms located throughout the state of California at (800) 244-8814.

If you have any further questions about asset protection planning and strategies to shield your wealth, or if you’d like to have your current asset protection plan reviewed to make sure it still meets your needs, please contact us at our California asset protection office at 800-244-8814 to set up a consultation.

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