At Surprenant & Beneski, our estate planning attorneys are well aware of the excitement surrounding the birth or adoption of a child. Family expansion is one of the primary reasons adults, married or single, feel inclined to contact us and begin planning their future or updating their existing estate plans. After all, whether you are becoming a parent for the first time or adding a family member, the event will change the dynamics of your home.
For decades, our firm has assisted residents of Southeastern Massachusetts in meeting their goals as responsible parents. Legally, adopted children are just as legitimate as biological children. For our part, no matter how your child is arriving and whether or not you are married, we are committed to helping you prepare to receive and protect your precious baby.
Estate Planning Steps for Parents-to-Be
Whether you have 9 months to prepare or are getting a headstart, estate planning is similar to other types of preparation, like laying in a supply of diapers, baby clothes, toys, and equipment or furnishing a nursery. In both cases, it makes sense to:
- Get knowledgeable advice
- Make a list of essential tasks
- Tackle these tasks one at a time so as not to become overwhelmed
From an estate planning perspective, depending on individual circumstances, the tasks involved may include:
1. Making a Will and Naming a Guardian for Your New Child
Your will has several significant functions:
- It will enable you to designate your beneficiaries, the individuals to whom your property will pass when you die.
- It will allow you to name a personal representative (executor) to manage your estate
- It will permit you to name a guardian for this child and any other minors
It is good to know that your Will is a fluid document you can modify at any time, according to your wishes. If you have a pre-existing will when you learn you will soon become a parent, you can easily update it.
If you are adopting, according to Massachusetts state intestate succession laws, even if you didn’t get a chance to make a will, your adopted child, like your biological one, is fully entitled to inherit.
2. Creating a Trust (or Altering an Existing One)
A trust is a document in which you name another party, the trustee, to manage your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries, according to your wishes, when you die. When you create a trust with the help of a skilled estate planning attorney, you provide for your expected child to inherit quickly and directly. A trust may also have multiple other benefits, such as:
- Avoiding the delays and costs of probate
- Protecting your privacy (since a trust, unlike a will, is not a matter of public record),
- Minimizing taxes
- Protecting entrusted funds from creditors and possible lawsuits.
3. Purchasing Life Insurance or Updating Your Beneficiary Designations
Many young adults neglect to purchase life insurance because their death seems so far away. The reality is that some individuals die prematurely, a certain percentage of them leaving young children behind.
Better to plan for this unlikely occurrence than to leave your family without the funds they need to get through an unexpected period of grief and turmoil. Life insurance benefits will provide the new member of your family with the secure environment they need to grow and thrive if something happens to you.
While picking adorable outfits and cuddly stuffed animals may be much more fun than arranging for your new baby to have financial security, the latter is essential to being a responsible parent.
Contact Surprenant & Beneski now to begin the process.
Estate Planning Is a Significant Part of Nesting
As you make the list of what to do to prepare for your bundle of joy, make sure to put consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney at the top. Once you contact one of our capable, caring lawyers, we will help prepare the documents you need to keep your precious child safe and protected no matter what happens. We will also help you plan how to fund your child’s education and set aside funds to celebrate the many joyous occasions coming your way.