From the moment you find out you are having a baby, there are a seemingly endless number of choices to be made:
- Choosing your baby’s name
- Continuing to work or stay at home
- Finding the best childcare option
- Selecting your baby’s pediatrician
- Finding the perfect car seat, stroller, diapers, formula, etc.
Don’t let the excitement and challenges of bringing home a new baby cause you to overlook the important process of estate planning for new parents. The preparation of legally binding estate planning documents that are customized to your unique situation is crucial to protecting and providing for your children should you become unable to do so.
There are several important documents to be established and decisions to be made when expecting the birth or adoption of a child.
The most common and well-known estate planning instrument is the Will. A Will is an individual’s written directions for the transfer of his or her property upon death. A Will must be executed as required by law in order to be valid. Everyone should have a Will, regardless of whether or not your assets are of significant value. If you die without a Will, your assets will pass according to Tennessee intestacy law. Unfortunately, Tennessee’s intestate distribution scheme usually does not distribute your property in the way you would choose. New parents should nominate a trustee or custodian in your will to supervise and manage your children’s inheritances until your children reach an age where they are mature and responsible enough to manage their inheritance on their own.
If you have minor children, you’ll want to plan for what would happen in the unlikely event that both parents die. For many people, choosing the personal guardian of their minor children is the single most important and difficult decision that they need to make during the estate planning process. The decision and discussion should involve a thorough consideration of all of the qualified family members and close friends, their relative ages, their health, the perceived stability of their marriages, and their geographical proximity to where you would like your children to be raised.
The executor is the person you appoint to be in charge immediately after your death to ensure your estate plan is carried out as you intended. Because every estate and every family is unique, when choosing an executor, your decision should involve discussion and consideration of many factors including the size of your estate, the complexity of your financial affairs and how well family members get along. The executor’s job is usually finished within 9-18 months after the death has occurred.
An attorney can guide you through the preparation and execution of estate planning documents that are custom designed to fit your family’s particular needs and goals.
Andrew Bellm’s practice involves estate planning, probate, and guardianships and conservatorships. He provides customized estate planning solutions to individuals and families through the use of wills, trusts, and financial and healthcare powers of attorney, and assists clients with probate and trust estate administration. Andrew can be contacted at 615.921.4218 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found at GSRM.com. Mention this article for a $100 discount on a basic estate planning package.