As a new parent, you’re focused on your bundle of joy and with so many things to do, estate planning for new parents is easy to dismiss. You may have already charted the course of your child’s life. But, have you considered what could happen if you can’t be there for your child?
New parents may feel uncomfortable at the thought of not being around for their little one or able to care for them. Despite the difficulties, don’t put off this essential step in safeguarding your child’s future. We recommend that all parents of minor children have a properly executed estate plan. Estate Planning is important for new parents because, without a plan, a judge may step in to make decisions that go against your wishes. The right time to think about estate planning, if possible, is now, while you still can.
You may wonder how to set up your estate plan. Whether you choose a will or a living trust, these tools outline how you want your child (or children) to be cared for and how to distribute your assets upon your death. We can help you consider which documents suit your situation.
Among the issues to think about in your estate planning are:
1. Guardianship – In case something happens to you or the other parent, you should choose a guardian to raise your child. The guardian will care for and support your child and make all necessary legal, medical, and educational decisions. Ideally, they will have good character and share your values and parenting style. If you have more than one child, especially a large family, you can choose more than one person as a guardian for certain children.
2. Inheritances – Under a children’s inheritance trust, you can control what your child will receive and when. Typically, by law, this will happen when a child reaches adulthood at age 18, but you can choose a different age when you think your child may be mature and financially responsible enough to handle an inheritance. If you will use a trust, you can appoint a trustee — the guardian or another person — to manage your estate while your child is underage.
3. Your agent or attorney-in-fact – A durable power of attorney lets you name who you want to act on your behalf — often in financial matters — in case you become incapable of doing so. Similarly, an advanced healthcare directive designates someone to make medical decisions for you if you can’t do so yourself. When you pass away, a power of attorney is no longer in effect. But your executor, if you have a will, or your trustee (as outlined in a living trust) will represent you on behalf of your estate.
4. Funeral arrangements – You can specify your final wishes. If you don’t, a court could assign the duty to your next-of-kin.
When you consider a guardian or an agent, the person should be willing, healthy, trustworthy, and capable of handling the responsibility. Talk to your top choices to find out how they feel about taking on these roles before you put your desires in writing.
Once you’ve planned for your estate, you and your family will be on the way to a more secure future.
New parents are often busy. You don’t have to plan for your estate yourself. Let our experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys advise you on the right course to take. To discuss your needs, contact us today.