Expecting parents typically have a to-do list, and even lists of to-do lists, to prepare for the new family member. Even so, most feel less anxious if they give estate planning a prime spot near the top of their pre-baby agenda.
Buying life insurance comes first for a reason
Life insurance may not sound like an exciting start. But consider this. What happens if both new parents die when their baby is still young?
With term life insurance, there would be money for the child’s clothes, food, housing, health insurance and other needs, including a college education, until they are old enough for self-support.
Given manageable premiums, the peace of mind may give new parents much-needed sleep. That is why life insurance is a top-priority decision.
Update beneficiaries now and from now on
Now could be the time to comb through every benefit plan you have, considering whether they name a beneficiary. Life insurance and any 401(k) or IRA have a beneficiary.
Parents often name their spouse as primary and children as secondary beneficiaries.
In any case, it is good practice to go back over all your documents periodically from not on to keep them from getting “stale.”
A will to name a guardian
If you die without a will, New York State steps into the role you have left open. The courts decide who gets your money and possessions and who raises your child.
A will is the place to name a guardian for your child if you die before they are old enough to be on their own.
Remember that minors cannot legally own property. Who do you trust with the assets meant to pay for the child’s food, clothing, health insurance, education and the like?
Setting up a trust lets you make detailed decisions now
Most people think trusts are just for rich kids and people who fund documentaries on public television. Not true.
A trust allows much more control over a child’s inheritance. You appoint a trustee who may have strict and specific instructions for using the assets.
Such instructions can also apply to your child even when they are legally an adult. Perhaps the child only inherits the assets when they are 21 or 30 or another age. Perhaps an exact part of the payments must go to charity every year. Or it can all go to charity unless the child graduates from college.