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Estate Planning for Children

I didn’t have much of a chance to pack a hospital bag for the arrival of my first child. He arrived four weeks early and just one week after my baby shower. Baby items were still strewn about his future bedroom, not washed, folded and organized as I had envisioned. For my second we were much more prepared and by my third I knew exactly what I needed for a hospital stay and more importantly what I didn’t. Before the birth of my third child I had a bedroom decorated, tiny onesies folded and organized by size and my most comfortable sweatpants packed and ready by the door. Of course, nothing could prepare me for having three adorable and spirited children no matter how well I packed my hospital bag.

Preparing for the arrival of a child gives parents some semblance of control before a new arrival. You can purchase the car seat, the stroller, and the adorable clothes but you can’t predict whether your new baby will sleep through the night, eat well, or meet all of his or her developmental milestones. One thing you can plan for is who will be there for your newborn when you are not able.

Appointing a guardian for a minor child is an important part of your estate plan and just one more item you can control when you have children. Telling family or friends who will take your children if you become incapacitated or pass away is not enough. In order to avoid any confusion, disputes between family members, and lengthy court battles, putting your wishes in writing is the only way to be truly prepared. Although not a discussion you may want to have before the arrival of your first or even fourth child, it is such an important decision to make. Who will be the most capable family member or friend to make financial and medical decisions for your children when you are not able? Who will be able to take them into their family and make sure they are fed, clothed and loved?

Preparing a Last Will and Testament is yet another extremely important step in preparing for a growing family. A will not only allows you to choose who will handle your estate when you pass away and where your assets will go, but a will can create a trust for minor children, avoiding the need for extensive of the estate proceedings. Creating a trust to benefit your child if you pass away is a smart way to ensure that your child’s future is protected. Trust assets can be used for education, health care, travel and other general needs if you aren’t there in person to offer continued financial support for your child.

Adding estate planning to the long list of to dos before welcoming another family member into your life is the best way to be truly prepared for the newest addition.