There’s an incredible joy that comes with becoming a parent. The smile of a child affects parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all other family members. Every parent wants their child/children to live happy and healthy lives. They treasure watching their children grow from newborns to toddlers to preteens, teens, and ultimately adults.

Along with your child’s daily care, every parent needs to plan for the possibility they may die before their child turns 18. Responsible parents work with experienced Harrisburg estate planning lawyers to ensure their children are protected financially in case the parents die early. In addition, responsible parents need to select someone to raise their child if the worst scenario, the death of a parent, occurs.

Our seasoned Harrisburg estate planning lawyers calm your worries. We review the following issues with the parents of newborns or parents of a child of any age so you can enjoy the pleasure of raising your children.

  • The selection of a guardian. Parents need to anticipate the possibility that both parents may die before the child turns 18. Usually, if the first parent dies before the child turns 18, the other parent continues to raise the child. There are times, though, when both parents die early, such as in a car accident or when one parent dies and the other parent cannot care for the child.

Parents should select a guardian who will agree to raise their child. The parents should think through the relationship between the guardian and the child. Generally, parents choose other family members such as the child’s grandparents or the siblings of a parent. The guardian should share the parent’s cultural, educational, religious, and moral values. The guardian should be able to raise the child financially.

  • Providing for the child’s financial needs. There are different ways to secure a child’s financial future in the death of one or both parents. These methods include:
    • Life insurance. Parents should purchase as much life insurance as they can reasonably afford. Life insurance usually is payable to the other parent or the parent’s estate. If there is no other parent (because the other parent died), then the life insurance should be payable to the children. The life insurance needs to cover daily living expenses, medical expenses, childcare costs, and education costs – among other expenses.
    • A will. A parent normally provides that his/her estate (home, cars, bank accounts, businesses, personal property, and other assets) is distributed through a will. The beneficiaries are usually a spouse and children. If the children’s parents are divorced, then our lawyers review the best way to provide for your children in the will financially.
    • A trust agreement. Children are not capable of handling their own financial affairs. If you leave assets to your child, a trust is a legal method for ensuring that the funds are available to provide for your child while the child is a minor. Typically, the child will receive the principal from the trust when he/she turns 18.
  • Providing for the care and expenses if a child has special needs. If your newborn has special health or educational needs (from birth or any time during his/her adulthood), the parents may consider using a trust agreement. A trust sets aside funds for your child and appoints a trustee (such as the other parent, a friend, or even a bank) to manage the trust for your child. The trust can become active immediately, or the trust can become active when you die. A special needs trust is a type of trust that helps ensure your child can receive government disability benefits and income from the special needs trust.

Additional estate planning considerations for newborns

The parents need to select someone to manage their estates – an executor. Often, the other spouse is appointed the executor, and an alternative executor is appointed if your spouse dies before you or cannot serve as executor for some reason. 

Parents of newborns should also consider strategies to ensure their property doesn’t go through probate. For example, you can designate that your bank accounts are payable on death (POD). Transfer on Death (TOD) accounts allow you to designate a beneficiary for your investment accounts.

A will only provide protection when you die. Parents also need to consider how to protect their children if they can’t take care of their children while they are alive – for example, a parent is in a car accident which causes severe head trauma. Some of the ways our skilled estate planning lawyers help protect children if a parent is physically or mentally incompetent include:

  • The use of durable powers of attorney to manage your finances.
  • A medical power of attorney.
  • A business succession plan if you own or are interested in a business.
  • Choosing a guardian if you become incapacitated.

Our skilled lawyers also review any debt issues that may affect the amount of money available for your children.

At Antanavage Farbiarz, our Harrisburg estate planning lawyers understand when people such as parents, seniors, and those who have significant assets need to think about their wills and other estate planning issues. So when you become a parent, call us at (610) 562-2000 or use our contact form to discuss how we can work together to ensure your child’s future.

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