New parents experience major changes in almost every part of their lives. When parents welcome a child into the world, there are a host of new responsibilities, from preparing the house for a new family member to shifting schedules to care for the child. But beyond initial changes, parents also need to have the long term in mind. As part of becoming a new parent, it is important to make provisions for your child should anything happen to you. Writing a will is the best way to do that.
What a Will Does
Wills are important for all types of individuals—not just new parents—because they are the best way to organize an estate for distribution after the individual passes away. When the unexpected happens, the family has to deal with tremendous emotional stress, and thinking about the logistics of distributing the individual’s assets can add to the difficulties.
A will allows the person to make clear his or her wishes ahead of time so that the family (and the court) knows how to handle the estate in their absence. The individual must select an executor, the person that will be in charge of carrying out the provisions of the will, such as working with the court and ensuring an appropriate distribution of the estate to various beneficiaries. Beyond the distribution of property, the individual can make arrangements for charitable donations and funeral details, in addition to identifying their wishes regarding health directives.
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Why It’s Important for New Parents
Writing a will should be on the to-do list for any new parent, because it is a major part of responsible estate planning for any family. When children are added to the equation, writing a will is important for providing for the family and determining an appropriate distribution of assets for heirs.
At a basic level, it is important for parents to list out their wishes regarding the distribution of assets to children so that each offspring is provided with the appropriate parts of the estate. The most significant problems arise when something happens to both parents and neither has a will. When this happens, there is no executor named, and the family or the court will have to work to distribute assets without information of the parents’ wishes. That means that children and other beneficiaries can wind up losing out on assets that the parents may have wanted them to receive.
More importantly, having a will is the only way to guarantee that children are cared for in a way that conforms to the parents’ wishes should anything happen to them. As part of a will, parents can indicate whom they would like to name as guardians, preventing any complications resenting guardianship and further distress for the children in the transition process. In addition, parents can make provisions for the financial support of their children, including after they come of age.
Updating Your Will Regularly
Writing your will is not a one-time task. Instead, new parents should craft an initial will and then update it regularly to reflect changes in the family, changes in their beneficiaries, or changes in the estate.
Updating the will is nearly as important as writing the will in the first place because it allows for a truly accurate depiction of the parents’ wishes should the unexpected occur. If a new child is born and the will is not updated, for example, the parents will not be able to provide details regarding the long-term care for that child. Or, if the estate changes, there is a chance that the children will not receive assets that they should have been given.