Are You Expecting? Get Estate Planning Out of the Way NOW
You’ve read the books. You’ve taken the classes. You have met with the doctor and secured a great spot in childcare. So, are you totally ready for your new baby’s arrival?
Of course, it’s impossible to be 100% prepared. Especially with an infant, surprises are sure to arise. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. My wife and I are expecting our first child in 2020, and we are taking all the advice we can get. Here’s the best reminder we’ve gotten so far: it’s okay. It’s okay to not know everything that’s going to happen when our bundle of joy arrives. It’s okay to fumble through these first few years of parenthood, figuring out the best way things work for us. That’s what being a new parent is all about...I hope.
Let a Plan Support Your Spontaneity
The spontaneity of caring for a newborn and raising a child is one of the things I am looking forward to most. Never knowing what’s going to happen next, going on this adventure with my wife, it’s something I am really excited to do. However, that doesn’t mean we are totally without a plan. Even in the face of all the unknown ahead, we do have a plan in place that keeps me feeling safe. I know that, no matter what happens, I have a plan in place that will keep my future child safe and will provide for his or her future.
For some, the idea of an estate plan at this stage in the game can seem premature and more than a little overwhelming. After all, you have so much going on to prepare for the baby. When are you going to find time to sit down with a lawyer?
That’s where Wakefield Law comes in. I’m an expecting parent, too. I get it. Our family-oriented firm is all about serving you, where you are, and in the time you have available. We’ve streamlined the estate planning process so that you can get in and out with a comprehensive, individually-tailored plan that’s right for you. Not to mention, we provide ongoing support and free estate plan reviews so that your plan can grow and evolve with your growing family.
What Documents Do You Need Before the Baby Comes?
First and foremost, new parents need Wills. Sure, this may seem obvious, but it’s actually incredibly important. Wills do a couple of things. One is to pass on your earthly possessions to your loved ones. While that’s an important function of a Will, it’s probably not at the top of your mind when you are bringing a new baby into the world. (Not to mention, it’s not the most efficient way to transfer assets, but we’ll get to that in a minute). Most importantly, a Will also allows you to name a guardian for minor children. This is where estate planning documents are most necessary. If something should happen to you, who will care for your baby? Without a Will, the court will make that decision on your behalf, and they might not make the same choice you would. A properly executed Will allows you to name first, second, and third-choice guardians who can step in to care for your child, if the need should ever arise.
Temporary Guardian Designation
You can also use your estate plan to name temporary guardians. Naming temporary guardians happens outside of the Will, and allows you to name one or more individuals who live nearby and should be called upon to care for your child immediately. If your appointed permanent guardians do not live nearby or are not available in an emergency, temporary guardianship is a good way to ensure that a trusted adult will be able to be there for your child.
When choosing guardians, both temporary and permanent, it is important to take your time. There are a lot of factors to consider, and we are here to help walk you through this deeply personal decision.
Advance Medical Directive
In addition to the health and wellbeing of your child, your estate plan should provide for your own health and wellbeing, too. An Advance Medical Directive is a set of documents that allows you to state your medical preferences, name a healthcare proxy, designate individuals who are entitled to speak with your healthcare providers about your condition, and specify any end-of-life wishes. Without these documents in place, even temporary incapacity due to illness or injury can become a nightmare. By taking the time to lay out your wishes and necessary permissions in your advance medical directive, your loved ones will be able to seek care on your behalf unencumbered.
Of course, finances and assets are not as important and you and your child’s health and wellbeing. However, that doesn’t mean they are not necessary. A good estate plan should plan for any and all unexpected conditions, and this includes a comprehensive financial plan.
Power of Attorney
When the unexpected occurs, who is empowered to take the wheel? Who can make sure the bills are paid, the house is cared for, and the business is up and running? Your Power of Attorney allows you to name a financial agent who is entitled to make financial, business, and legal decisions on your behalf. If you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated, Power of Attorney is absolutely essential.
Revocable Living Trust
How will you preserve your assets to ensure your child and partner are cared for in the future? Who will oversee the distribution of your assets? What kind of controls can you exercise that will protect your child long into his or her future? Sounds like a job for a Revocable Living Trust. Unlike a Will, which simply states who should receive what and then is executed through the probate court process (which can be long and costly), a trust allows you to transfer assets to loved ones outside of a court setting efficiently and privately. When you create a trust, you are able to exercise far more control over your assets. Trust instructions state to whom, when, in what amounts, and for what purposes assets can be distributed. For example, don’t want your child to inherit your entire estate when he or she turns 18? A trust may be the answer. You can specify trust instructions that provide for your child’s healthcare, education, housing, travel, all without the interference or oversight of the court.
Get it Done Now, Before the Sleepless Nights Ahead
Despite all of the good advice I am getting as we near our due date, I have been getting some tough talk, too. I understand the road ahead is going to be filled with challenges. But I also know it will be full of joy, laughter, and love. In the months we have before our first child enters the world, we are making the most of our time. We’re getting things done and preparing ourselves and our home. And, of course, we completed our estate plan. If you are expecting, too, make sure you get your estate plan done now. You will be glad you did. To get started, give Wakefield Law a call. I am here to help.