Having a Baby? Have an Estate Plan First.

The beginning of life might seem like an odd time to start thinking about the end of life, but it’s precisely the right time.

TIME Money magazine recently listed estate planning as one of the eight essential steps that new and expectant parents must take when a baby is on the way (or has just arrived). After all, you have a little life depending on you now, and planning for an uncertain future provides invaluable protection for your child.

“No one likes to think about these sorts of things,” Money writes, “but if you and your partner (if you have one) were to pass away, your estate would go to court for a lengthy process that can cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 percent of your assets.”

They recommend the following first steps for new parents who don’t yet have an estate plan (or who need to update theirs to accommodate for the new child):

  • Make a will
  • Execute a Power of Attorney document
  • Designate a health care proxy
  • Decide how you wish to handle end-of-life issues, including life support
  • Talk with your spouse about a guardian for your child
  • Establish a trust

Money puts special emphasis on that last point, living trusts in particular. A living trust is a flexible but effective legal document that allows you to manage and transfer your assets both during your life and after death. It’s revocable and modifiable while you’re alive.

“Living trusts are especially helpful for parents of young children,” Money explains. “You can include specific instructions within the trust, like how and when your assets will be transferred if you die before you[r] children become legal adults…”

It’s good advice, and we applaud the TIME team for raising awareness of the issue, which too few young families give serious consideration.

If you’re a new parent or have a baby on the way, the experienced Pennington, NJ estate planning attorneys at Medina Law Group can help. Call us today.