Estate planning is of utmost importance for parents of minor children. Failure to do so could be detrimental to the lives of your children. You should be in control of who becomes the legal guardian of your child, who will take care of them financially, and who will instill the same morals and values in them that you would have if you were available to do so. The decision to appoint a guardian or trustee is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly nor should it be left up to chance.
When an estate plan isn’t in place, state law governs the distribution of your assets, and the courts decide who gets your kids. You’ve worked too hard to get to where you are to allow someone who knows nothing about you to determine what’s best for your assets and loved ones. While the fees for obtaining an estate plan can be high, it will cost you and your family too much in the long run if you do without it.
For example, if Bryant died without a will or trust, California state law would govern the distribution of his assets. Since California is a community property state, all community property would go to his wife, Vanessa, outright, and the remaining assets (separate property) would be split, with a third going to his wife, and the remaining two-thirds would be split equally among his minor children.
The problem with that is minors are prohibited from owning a certain amount of money. So, if his children were to inherit more than $5,000, court proceedings must be initiated. A court might order a guardian to control the funds, invest the funds with the county treasurer, deposit the funds into an account where access is controlled by the court, or release the funds to a custodian under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. None of these options give you the power of decision as it relates to your own money and your own children.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Kobe Bryant. May he rest in power.