Bringing a new baby home may have your head spinning. You may already have a nursery in place and well stocked, but it is not too late to think ahead for changes you must make. For example, although your child may not be crawling yet, it is a good idea to baby-proof the house to ensure the child’s safety. You may be reading books about how to provide appropriate sensory stimulation for the child, and you may even be looking around for a quality daycare or preschool.
Planning ahead is important when you have children. However, there is one area of planning that many new parents overlook, and that is estate planning. You may be like many in Colorado who think of estate planning as something to do when you are nearing retirement, but having a child in your life is a powerful reason to begin the estate planning process.
What should my estate plan look like?
An estate plan is something that grows and changes as your life progresses. The plan you make now will likely look very different from the one you have at 65. That is because your main purpose in preparing a plan now is the protection of your precious child. If something unforeseen should happen to you, you will want your child to receive all the love, care and protection you would provide. Some of the critical elements of an estate plan at this stage in your life include the following:
- Naming a trusted individual to act as the guardian of your child
- Creating a will that names the executor of your estate, that is, the person who will see your estate through the probate process
- Building a trust that will hold and manage your assets to provide funds for the care of your child and protect inheritance funds until your child reaches the age when he or she can responsibly use them
- Naming others who may receive assets from your estate
- Establishing a power of attorney so that a trusted individual can make legal and financial decisions in case you should become incapacitated
Power of attorney and guardianship are among the most critical elements of an estate plan for a new parent. You certainly do not want to leave the well-being of your child at the mercy of the courts if you pass away or become unable to speak on your child’s behalf. Nevertheless, you may be uncertain where to start. Your first step is to gain as much information as possible about your options by reaching out to a legal professional.