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Parents: Your estate plan can provide for your children

Brining a new baby into the world is a joy for parents, but it also brings up new responsibilities. A primary one is that you have to know that your child will be taken care of if something happens to you. Setting up your estate plan, and keeping your child in mind while doing this, can ensure that you have a say in their rearing if you pass away.

Your estate plan includes more than just a will. In fact, it can cover some aspects of your life before you even pass away. Having all of this in place might give you peace of mind as you go through your life.

Plans for incapacitation

If you become incapacitated, your affairs must still be handled. This includes things like making sure your bills are paid and that someone is there to make medical decisions for you. In order to do these, you have to designate a power of attorney for health care and one for finances. You can choose the same person for both tasks, but you don't have to if you'd rather have two different individuals named.

One top of the powers of attorney, you need to establish a living will. This is a document that your health care team can review to determine what kind of medical tests and treatments you are willing to undergo. If the answer isn't contained in this document, the person who is your health care proxy will make the decisions.

Plans for your children

The guardianship designations you set will determine where your children will live if they can't live with you. You can name a primary person for your child, but it is a good idea to name backup guardians just in case the primary one can't care for the children.

When you name the guardian, you should talk to them so they know what to expect. Make sure that they know what duties they need to perform so that they can let you know if they don't feel they can do them. Choose a person who will have the energy and desire to raise your children in the manner they should be.

If you are leaving assets or money behind, name a trustee. This person is like a treasurer for your child. The guardian can be the same person as the trustee, but you can have different people if you want to have a system of checks and balances.

You also need to set up your will and establish any trusts that can distribute your assets when you pass away. Think carefully about these so that you can use them to care for your children.

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