When you welcome a new baby into your family, it changes your life in many ways. There are those temporary adjustments, like late nights, diaper changes and high chairs. However, there are monumental changes, such as the new responsibilities of being a parent.
Your child depends on you in ways even he or she does not understand. Beyond shelter, food and clothing, your child relies on you for security and protection. While you are certain to buckle your child safely into a car seat and follow your pediatrician's recommendations for good health, you may also wish to consider the difficult questions of what will happen to your child if you are suddenly not there.
What can my estate plan include?
It is not something you want to think about, especially at this joyful new time in your life. However, spending time now making some tough decisions may protect your child from a confusing and uncertain future. You may think of estate planning as a project for your older years, but as a parent with a new child, you have every reason to think ahead and establish a safety net for your family. Some of the important considerations North Carolina parents make during estate planning include the following:
- A trust to provide financial support as your child grows
- A will naming a trusted individual to be the guardian of your child
- Durable and medical powers of attorney to make financial and medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to express your wishes
- Beneficiaries for your assets, including your life insurance and investments
- An executor to handle your estate after you pass away
- Final arrangements, including your wishes for burial or cremation, authorization for an autopsy if warranted, and plans for your funeral or memorial service
Without these documents in place, your family and loved ones will spend a great deal of time in and out of courtrooms seeking orders for the distribution of your assets, permission to make decisions for you and, most importantly, guardianship of your child. Your family may also be left to deal with financial penalties, taxes and other uncertainties if you fail to plan your estate.
Once your estate plan is in place, you can rest assured that you have done a good thing for your family, even if it is decades before they realize it. Your estate plan can grow with you, and you can modify it throughout your life as changes in your family and estate occur.