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There's a lot to think about when you are expecting a baby. Baby names, nursery décor, and car seat installation probably come to mind.
However, there are also other important considerations to think about, like making a last will and testament.
It might be difficult to think about making a will at such a joyful time for your family. Yet, part of being a parent is planning for your child's future.
While the vast majority of parents live long enough to provide for and raise their children, there are a small minority of parents who are not so lucky, due to a fatal illness or accident.
The best way to care for your child in the case of such a tragedy is to create a valid will and testament. Each parent should have their own will. If you are married or share custody of the children while they are living, then the surviving parent will typically have custody of the children if one parent dies, regardless of the arrangements in the will.
However, if both parents die or the sole custodial parent dies, then the guardian named in the will becomes the legal custodian of the children. As a parent, it is important to make sure that your will contains a:
In the absence of a validly executed will, the state will determine who has custody of your children and how your assets will be divided. State statutes called the “intestate laws” determine these matters.
In many states, your surviving spouse will only get a percentage of your estate if you have children, for example. And in some states, your parents are entitled to a percentage of your estate if they survive you. For all of these reasons, it is important that you protect your child by creating a will. It doesn't matter if you have little property to leave or if the state would appoint the same guardian who you would appoint. Circumstances may change when you least expect them to, and your will can protect your children the way that you want them to be protected.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified estate planning lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.