Q: My grandson and his wife have had their first child. To make sure that they get a will, I have offered to pay for it. Are there any other estate planning documents that new parents should have?
A: There are a couple of other things that new parents should consider. However, if you are able to convince them to make a will, you are off to a good start.
When planning for a new child, a will is one of those things that is often over looked. Let's face it, no one wants to think about dying when they are about to have a child. It's unfortunate that the will gets overlooked because it's one of those things that every new parent should have.
When discussing estate planning with new parents, the most common excuse I get is they don't really have anything yet and, in a lot of cases, that's basically true. People who are starting out haven't had a chance to collect a lot of possessions.
On the other hand, when you have a child, you have something far more valuable than the treasurers that we collect. You have been entrusted with the well being of a child. You have to feed and house the child. You have to teach the child so that he grows up to be a respectable citizen, and not one of those boneheads that can't seem to find the turn signal when driving. You have to prepare the child to make his way in this world when the time comes.
Now what happens if you aren't there to prepare your little bundle of joy? Who will take over that duty? Don't you want a say in who raises your child if you aren't there to do it? I have four siblings, but I would only trust the well-being of my children to three of the four. I'll let them guess which one isn't qualified.
When you execute a will, you can designate a guardian for your children. In other words, you can help decide who gets to raise your child if you can't be there. What could be more important than that? Trust me, who gets your stuff is a lot less important than who will care for your child.
I'm a firm believer that all parents of minor children should have a will no matter how much they have in the bank. In fact, I think wills make a great baby shower gift. You may not be able to register for one, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have one in place when the baby arrives.