The Importance of Estate Planning for New Parents
June 14, 2011
News sources such as the Washington Post entertainment section promise that this summer will be flush with celebrity newborns and proud mamas and papas. Some of the stars expecting additions to their families include Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Connelly and more. Here at our office we wonder how many of these new parents will remember to update their wills or estate plans after the birth of their child… and how many of our readers have remembered (or will remember, if they are currently expecting a new child or grandchild) to update their own estate plans after an addition to their families.
Every parent knows that the time after the birth of a new baby can be a tired, busy and chaotic transition, and updating their estate plan is probably the last thing on any new parent’s mind. But after the first few months, when things have calmed down and you’ve settled into a routine, updating your estate plan to include and provide for your new little one should take top priority.
Here are a few things new parents will want to consider as they prepare to update their estate plan:
- Guardians for your child. Who are the people who will raise your child if the unthinkable should happen to you and your spouse? Many people choose close family members, others choose trusted friends.
- Keep your child’s inheritance in trust. Settling your entire estate on a 5, 10 or 16 year old is never a good idea. Consider instead creating a trust for your child which will provide for him until he reaches maturity.
- Trustees of your child’s inheritance. Who do you trust to invest and distribute the estate for your child while she is still a minor? Some parents choose to have the guardians also serve as trustees; others prefer to nominate separate trustees and guardians who will work together, providing a natural system of checks and balances.
- Providing for your child’s special needs. If your child has special needs he will need special planning to ensure that his needs continue to be provided for. Ask us (or your own local estate planning attorney) about a special needs trust.
Guardians, trustees, trusts and special needs planning are the very basics of estate planning for families with minor children, and should serve as a jumping off point for further discussion with your estate planner.