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Military family estate planning: Electing guardians

Military families have a lot to think about when it comes to estate planning. Being mobile and not having a stable home to call your own may change your priority on protecting tangible property and physical assets. However, that doesn't mean that estate planning should be completely neglected for military personnel. If your family includes children, it may be more important than ever.

As anyone who has been in the military or been the spouse of a military person can tell you, life is unpredictable, and it is better to be prepared for the unexpected. Marriages break up, moves and deployments can be irregular and unexpected, and yes, unfortunately, fatalities or life-changing injuries can also occur.

Electing guardians, whether for your estate or for your children, is all a part of essential estate planning. There are no hard and fast rules to selecting a guardian, or even multiple guardians if you wish, but there are some tips. For example, you may want two different guardians -- one to manage your assets and one to look after your children.

Having two guardians is a good option if you feel someone who would be the best guardian for your children is not savvy when it comes to money. By selecting a different guardian over the children's trust, you can ensure they will be financially cared for through the years. Age may also be important. You want someone who will likely be around to see your children raised.

It is not always easy selecting a guardian; each spouse should be equally involved. Write out the values that are important to both of you and list potential friends or family who share the values you both hold dear. In the event something happens to only one of you, or the marriage is dissolved, there will be less contention with the desires of both parties included in the existing plan.

An estate planning attorney can be a big help in outlining the pros and cons of your list of choices as a guardian for your children and/or finances.

Source: FindLaw, "Ten Things to Think About: Choosing a Guardian for Your Child," accessed Nov. 10, 2017

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