When a woman learns that she is pregnant, a million thoughts go through her mind. Picking a name, planning for childcare, decorating the nursery, the list goes on and on. One important issue that may not be at the forefront of either parent’s mind is how to prepare for the baby’s future if the parents are not there to care for their child. It is difficult to think of death at a time when so much focus is directed toward a new life. However, it is in the child’s best interest if a plan is in place to provide for his or her well-being in the event that the parents are unable to do so. That is why making the decision to draft a Will is such an important one when a baby is due.
Choosing a guardian
One of the most important aspects of a will for a couple with a child is deciding who will act as the child’s guardian in the event that both parents die at the same time, for example, if they are both involved in a fatal car accident. This can be a difficult decision to make.
When Adam Yauch, co-founder of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer in May 2012, his will contained a distinctive formula to determine who would be guardian of his daughter. It seems to have grown out of a compromise, as it appears that neither he nor his wife could agree on exactly who would be best suited for the job. The will states that if Yauch died in a year ending in an even number, his parents would serve as guardians while his wife’s parents would be back-ups. If his death occurred in an odd-numbered year, his wife’s parents would take over as guardians while his parents would serve in the back-up capacity.
Ideally, both parents should agree on this difficult decision. It requires a lot of thought: the guardian will be the person who makes medical decisions regarding your child and ensures that his or her education is carried out in accordance with your wishes. You should also consider whether your child will need to relocate if you choose a guardian who does not live nearby. Think about whether the person or couple you choose already has kids: will one more child be too much for them to handle? Or if the couple does not have children, do you wish to entrust your child to what will be first-time parents, who have never raised a child before? It is always worthwhile to think of a back-up, in case your first choice is unavailable or unable to care for your child.
In addition, you will have to deal with financial planning when making a will. Raising a child is very expensive. Collegedata.com reports that the average cost for a year at a moderate in-state college in the 2012-2013 school year is more than $22,000. For a private school, the average cost is more than $43,000. Given that costs go up yearly, this could potentially be a huge outlay. Planning for it before your child is born could save you heartache down the line.
If you are expecting your first child or have young children but have not yet written your Will, it would be wise to speak to an attorney soon. Drafting a will to provide for the well-being of your offspring is one way to show them how much you really love them.