When we think of estate planning, we usually think of senior citizens, those approaching retirement, or those with significant wealth. However, estate planning is something that adults of most ages should be engaging in – and it is especially important for couples that are just starting out as parents.
As soon as you have a child, you have a person who you are responsible for protecting – and someone that you wish to support and protect even after your death. Life is no longer just about you, and you now have more reason than ever to be concerned with what happens to your assets and your loved ones in case of a tragedy. Below, we’ve listed five steps you can take to plan your estate after becoming new parents.
- Consider life insurance. The need for life insurance is usually minimal before you have dependents. But once you have children, you need a plan in case the unthinkable happens before they are old enough to support themselves. Remember that your life insurance plan should be enough to cover all of the expenses of raising a child, including childcare, healthcare, and schooling.
- Choose guardians. Choosing a guardian for your children can be an extremely difficult choice, but don’t put off the task for this reason. In Pennsylvania, those who don’t their outline guardianship wishes before they die will have a guardian chosen by the state. Make sure your voice is heard – and that the person or family you choose knows about your decision.
- Write a will. Yes, it is very hard to think about your eventual death, and perhaps harder to think about your loved ones moving on through life without you. But even though you may have many decades of health and happiness left, you never know what will happen. A will helps ensure that your wishes will be followed after your death and that your child receives the support and care that he or she needs despite your absence. Note that a do-it-yourself online will may not be valid and may not correctly outline your wishes.
- Learn about trusts. Trusts are not just for the super wealthy: they are great tools for parents who wish to protect their assets from taxes, for parents who want to give back to their kids, and for the parents of special needs children. Trusts may also be especially important if you or your spouse is a not a citizen of the United States.
- Write a personal legacy letter. Not all estate planning has to do with money, property, and wealth. Leaving behind you thoughts, passions, and hopes in a letter can help your loved ones remember you and pass on your memory to others. Legacy letters are especially valuable if you have very young children who may not remember you well or who may not yet understand who you are as a person.
Having young children doesn’t leave you much time to cross items off of your long-term to-do list, but making the above steps is critically important to your kids and your family.
If you live in Philadelphia County, Montgomery County or Bucks County, Pennsylvania and would like to discuss how to protect you spouse and children in an estate plan, please contact our office.