Happy family

As a mom, I’d do anything to protect my kids and keep them happy.

I make sure they have food, clothing and shelter. I take them to their activities and go buy princess Band-Aids when we are out (even though we still have the plain brown ones). I spend a good majority of my time making sure everything goes smoothly for them.

As parents, this is what we do, and we do a pretty good job of it while we are here on this earth. But why are so many of us not planning to help and protect our kids if something should happen to us?

Many of my friends do not have a will or a living trust set up to protect their kids and their assets. People don’t want to spend the time or money to set up this very important document. Regardless of your age or income, you absolutely should do this. Your kids will thank you later — hopefully much later!

Here are some facts about living trusts and wills that should help you make the decision to protect your family if something were to happen to you or your spouse.

1. A will or a living trust aren't only for the wealthy. Not only is the guardianship of your kids listed out in your will or trust, but it also allows you to decide how assets are allocated, at what ages your kids can receive those assets and for what use. Even if you don’t have substantial assets now, many employers provide life insurance that could cause your kids to inherit funds at a young and irresponsible age if you don’t dictate this.

2. A trust may be better than a will. Wills and trusts are very similar, but a trust allows your assets to be passed on without going through probate, a judicial process where a will has to be proven in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document. If you do not have all of your assets — cars, houses, bank accounts, etc. — titled to a trust, your loved ones will be forced to go through probate, which causes legal and attorney fees. Think of it this way: You spend a little time and money now to save a lot of money later.

3. Spend the extra money and have a lawyer do the documentation. My husband and I had a simple online will when we first had kids, and then we had a lawyer redo it. While the free online will was legal, it left a lot of gaps that we didn’t know about. Luckily, we now have one in place and paid a small amount to make sure it is done correctly.

4. Make sure you keep your will or trust updated. My dad recently passed away and hadn’t updated his trust in years. It’s caused some headaches for all of us to try and figure out how to proceed with a document that has outdated information. The good news is it still exists and we’re all protected, so the rest is just details.

5. Having a will or trust in place allows you to be sure your wishes are respected. My kids don’t have to wonder if I want to be buried or cremated, or what my preference is should I end up in a coma. There won’t be any fights over possessions or financials. Their grandparents don’t have to worry about who we’d want to raise our kids should something happen to my husband and I. The list of possibilities goes on.

Please do some research and then meet with an attorney. Fees can vary greatly, so call around and ask how much it costs to set up a living trust or will. Please protect your family should something happen to you — and spend your time loving them as much as possible right now.

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Jaime Wyant is a 33-year-old Omaha native, wife to Bret and mother to Marin and Liam. She writes monthly for Momaha.com. Read more from Jaime here.

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