As every parent knows, a new baby changes everything — not only your daily routine, your sleep patterns, and your center of focus, but how you view the future that now includes this wonderful new person. Lots of alterations have to be made to your home, your car, and the essential documents of your estate plan. That is if you already have an estate plan. If not, this is the time to consult with a well-respected estate planning attorney.
If you live in Southeastern Massachusetts or Cape Cod, contacting Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is a wise choice. We have the knowledge and skill you require and the personal interest in your individual needs that will make you feel supported. We will discuss your priorities and answer questions as we customize an estate plan to make your new baby’s nest even cozier.
In order to protect the little one, there are a number of steps you should take. Depending on whether you have an existing estate plan, they may involve creating new documents or modifying existing ones.
Step 1: Make a Will and Name a Guardian for Your Child
While one reason for making a will is to designate heirs and/or beneficiaries, the most critical reason for parents to make a will is to name a potential guardian for their child/children.
Although no one wants to consider the possibility that both parents will die prematurely, all parents want their children to be safe and well-cared for if the worst happens. No one wants family members to bicker about this matter or to have this decision left to the courts.
When you choose a guardian, you get to consider the person’s values, sense of responsibility, and relationship with your family. It’s important to be aware that even if you already have named a guardian for older offspring, you want to make sure to name your child in your updated will, both as an heir and in terms of designating the best guardian possible.
Step 2: Establishing a Trust for Your Child
An underaged child is not legally allowed to own and control property. So, unless you establish a trust to hold funds for your child until she or he reaches the age of majority, the probate court will take over the task, naming a trustee you may not approve of and charging unnecessary fees and expenses. You can avoid this unfortunate consequence by having your estate planning attorney draw up a trust in which you will name a trustee to manage your newborn’s resources until he or she is grown.
If your child is born with special needs or is permanently harmed by a birth injury, our compassionate attorneys will assist you in setting up a special needs trust to protect the child’s assets while allowing him or her to receive maximum government benefits, such as disability or Medicaid.
Step 3: Include a Trust for the New Baby as a Beneficiary on Other Important Documents
Most people have accounts on which they have designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts (e.g. 401(k)s or IRAs). These, too, may be updated to include the new baby, although this, too, must be done by creating a trust since a minor cannot be directly named on such documents.
While in most cases, the spouse or the baby’s other parent will be the primary beneficiary, you will want this trust to name your newborn (along with your other children) as the second beneficiary in case the primary beneficiary has also died.
Step 4: Purchasing or Updating Life Insurance
Once you have a child, it is essential to have adequate life insurance. If you already have life insurance, this is a good time to revisit the amount of coverage you have. In all probability, you may now need to increase your coverage. Also, if your child has special needs, you can arrange to hold onto your life insurance as you age, keeping your offspring as beneficiaries throughout your lifetime.
Step 5: Giving Someone You Trust Power of Attorney to Protect Your Child
Our estate planning attorneys will help you to create an estate plan that will protect your child if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding her or his welfare by giving a trusted person durable power of attorney. This designation gives your named agent the ability to pay bills, transfer money between accounts, etc.
You can also give someone in whom you have complete confidence a medical power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf, decisions that will impact your future and the future of your child.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Today
Becoming a parent, whether for the first time or once again, involves recalculating your plans. Let our insightful legal team guide you through the process. The steps we take together will give you the peace of mind that comes from making sure your loved ones, including the newest member of your family, are well-protected. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.