You and your spouse just had your first baby, and close friends and family have started recommending you draft a will. The two of you are relatively young with very little in the way of assets or things to pass down. However, now that you have a child, an estate plan seems more critical. Do you know all the functions a will performs and when? Get to know some of the standard elements of a will so you can begin planning your family’s future.
Choose an Executor
The first thing you should think about is who will be responsible for administering the will upon your death. If you draft a will while married, the surviving spouse is usually in this role. If you both die at the same time, you will have to name someone else. Choosing an executor is important and should be someone you trust to follow through and perform the conditions under the will. It should also be someone who agrees to take on this task. You do not need to choose a family member. You are free to select an attorney to administer the will.
Decide the Chain of Custody
Now that you have a child, the primary reason for drafting a will is to determine who will raise your child upon your death. When writing a will with a spouse, you have to account for your simultaneous deaths and name the guardian of your choosing. If you don’t do this, and you both die, your child could wind up a ward of the state until family members can duke it out in court.
When choosing the person to raise your child, consider:
- Current relationship to you and the child
- Ability to raise the child in a way you would
- How well they will foster a relationship with your families
It is crucial that you speak to anyone you choose and make sure they are willing to take on the role. You should create a chain of custody and rank them in order in case one or more predecease you and your spouse.
Divide Property and Money
Right now you don’t have much, but you still need to account for it and future assets. If you have a child, you can talk to an attorney about setting up a trust where the assets will go for the benefit of your child. You can pass them on to the designated guardian to help care for your child.
Drafting a will isn’t something you may necessarily want to do; however, it is an integral piece of your family’s future. Do not avoid doing it, or you could leave them in a bad situation.