When most people think about estate planning, they usually imagine an older person sitting with a Folsom estate planning lawyer discussing those matters. The truth is that there is no age requirement on when you should address what should happen to your assets and property in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away. This is especially true for new parents. No matter what your marital status, creating legal documents that express your wishes as to the care of your child is critical but very often overlooked. The following are some questions that many new parents have.
Should New Parents Create a Will?
Wills are an essential part of anyone’s estate plan, no matter what your age, but wills are particularly important for parents of minor children because a will is where you name the person you want to be the legal guardian of your child. This is the person who you want to raise and care for your child if you are no longer here to do so. If you have not legally named a guardian, then the courts will do it and the result may not be the person who you would have chosen.
What Else Should My Will Include?
In addition to naming a guardian, you also will want to choose someone to be the executor of your estate. This will be the person responsible for filing the will with the probate court, paying all debts of the estate, and distributing assets and property to beneficiaries that you have named in the will.
Do I Need a Trust?
Your will is a good place to specify who you want to receive personal items, such as jewelry, household items, and even digital assets. It may be more beneficial for you to place assets such as money and real estate in a trust. Typically, the items that are put in a trust are protected from the probate process, including protection from someone contesting who the beneficiary is. Beneficiaries also have immediate access to funds upon your death, unlike assets bequeathed in a will, which must go through the probate process first.
You can set the trust to ensure there are financial resources to care for your minor child and designate who should be the trustee. You can stipulate how and when those funds should be dispersed, as well as what types of expenses they should cover. Your estate planning attorney can explain the benefits of a trust and which type may be better for your situation.
What Other Types of Assets Which Need to Be Addressed?
In addition to designating beneficiaries for trusts and in wills, it is also important to designate beneficiaries for other types of assets you may have, such as savings accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You will want to update these accounts when your baby is born. Many of these accounts often have a primary beneficiary and secondary beneficiary, allowing you to name your spouse as the primary, but your child as the secondary in the event your spouse is no longer alive at the time of your death.
Thank you to our contributors at Yee Law Group for the above information.