Expecting parents and new parents should consider estate planning

Preparing for the birth of a new child includes many exciting opportunities for planning. Choosing a name, prepping the nursery and deciding how to tell the grandparents the good news are common sources of both excitement and concern for many people. At the same time, there are important decisions to make to help protect the child from infancy to adulthood.

It may seem obvious that choosing the best pediatrician, deciding how much parenting time is appropriate and adding the child health care insurance are necessary steps. As the due date approaches, most expecting parents look more closely at work schedules, financial considerations and what items need to be included in the household budget, such as diapers. The planning process can seem cumbersome, but necessary.

Researchers say that most parents of minor children often do not plan for who will care for the children should the parents pass away or become incapacitated. Experts estimate that only 36 percent of parents of young children have an estate plan or other documents in place to protect their children.

Creating a will allows parents to have a say in who will raise their children should the unexpected occur. Choosing a guardian in estate planning documents allows parents to have a say. If you have no legal documents in place, the courts will decide for you. Unfortunately, disputes among relatives, including battles between maternal and paternal family lines can be contentious.

In addition to choosing a guardian, expecting parents and parents of minor children can obtain true peace of mind through other appropriate estate planning tools. As no two households are the same, parents-to-be and new parents should consult with an experienced lawyer who can explain the benefits of such tools as powers of attorney and trusts that can allow for managing assets and allowing family members and doctors to understand their true wishes should a medical emergency or accident arise unexpectedly.

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