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Do I really need an estate plan as a new parent?

Now that you are a new parent, you probably have many people offering you advice. Family members and well-meaning friends may have strong opinions about car seats, feeding schedules, pediatricians and sleeping positions. Undoubtedly, there is some advice you trust more than others and some that just makes sense no matter what the source.

If someone offers you advice about making a will, it may seem like an inappropriate suggestion for this time in your life. However, this may be among the wisest guidance you receive if your loved one recommends that now is the time to begin your estate planning journey.

What do I include in my plan?

With a newborn, there are certain things you won't leave to chance. You are not going feed your child just any food or ask just anyone to babysit. If you are that careful to protect and provide for your child now, doesn't it make sense to prepare so that your child will receive the same care if something should happen to you?

This is why estate planning for new parents is not such an absurd idea. You can use your plan to ensure that, if anything tragic should befall you and your spouse, your children will not end up at the mercy of the Pennsylvania courts. An estate plan for young parents may include the following items:

  • A will that specifies who will be the guardian of your children
  • A trust to provide for your children's support, education and future
  • The designation of beneficiaries who will inherit your assets
  • A power of attorney for your financial and health care decisions if you should become incapacitated

You can also use your estate plan to express your wishes for your final arrangements, including preferences for your funeral, authorization for an autopsy, and your choice of burial or cremation. If you do not leave these instructions, your next of kin will likely receive permission from the courts to take care of these details. Therefore, if they are important to you, it is better to leave your wishes documented.

Like many new parents, you may feel that it is too early to make an estate plan. After all, it is possible your life will go through many drastic changes. Perhaps you will have more children, suffer the loss of loved ones, start or end a business, go through a divorce, or move out of state. Certainly, your assets will fluctuate throughout the years. However, the estate plan you begin now can be a building block that you can amend and enhance as life events require.

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