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Estate planning for expectant parents

Nothing can beat the anticipation and excitement of expecting your first child. It's one of the most magical times in life. As you anxiously await your little one's arrival, you may be fretting about how best to prepare - stocking up on those adorable newborn outfits, arranging (and rearranging) the nursery, reading how-to books, brushing up on your diaper-changing skills. Yet don't forget to prepare another important aspect of your life: your estate plan.

If you haven't already established an estate plan, now is the best time to get started. You can build a relationship with a trusted lawyer who will be there to address life's many changes that come your way. First, though, you need a foundation.

A basic estate plan covers much more than finances and property. It should also address critical issues such as:

  • What are your end-of-life wishes should the worst come to happen? A living will addresses these questions, ensuring that your loved ones won't have to guess about your wishes.
  • Who is empowered to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated? This decision is especially important when major medical events like childbirth are on the horizon. Through an advance health care directive and durable power of attorney, you can avoid questions or disputes about who's in the best position to make decisions on your behalf.
  • Who should take care of your child if something happens to both of you? Once your baby enters the world, you'll want to have a guardianship designation in place. Making a carefully considered decision will give you peace of mind for a long time to come.
  • How will your child be supported if something happens? As a minor, your child won't be able to manage assets. Yet there are other options - such as a trust - that will preserve those assets for his or her benefit and support.

Part of being a parent is tackling the tough decisions that go along with your increased responsibility. By starting to address those issues now, you'll have less to worry about down the road - which means more time and energy to devote to your precious new arrival.

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