What Keeps a New Mom Up at Night Besides the Baby? by Attorney Jeff Fleming
The birth of a new baby is a wondrous, joyous event. Henry David Thoreau said that “every child begins the world again.” Your world certainly began anew with your new baby!
It was a long path and it all seemed to happen so fast! But, it seems like there are still so many decisions to be made now and as your baby grows from infant to toddler, to school-age, to young adult. And, who would make those decisions if something happened to you?
First, if you died or were mentally incapacitated, your baby would need a Guardian to look after their physical and financial well being. You “nominate,” or suggest, a Guardian for your child in your Will. When the court is determining who should be named your child’s Guardian, it will give your preferred choice a lot of weight. The Guardian would have the privilege and responsibility of taking care of your child and providing for their material and emotional needs in the event of your death. Select the person as Guardian whom you trust most to raise your child and provide them a loving, nurturing environment. However, be sure to discuss the matter with the person you intend to select to make sure they are willing and able to take on the responsibility.
The best person to serve as your child’s Guardian may not have sufficient financial resources to provide the future you want for your child. And, you do not want your child to cause any financial hardship on the Guardian. Life insurance can provide the financial resources that could be used to pay for your child’s living expenses and education, and enable the future you want for your child.
One of the most important ways you can plan for your baby’s future is to plan for your own future. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you create a comprehensive plan:
• A Revocable Living Trust holds your property during your lifetime. If you become incapacitated, it allows for easy management of your property for you and your child. So, if you become ill, the person you designate, your successor “Trustee,” can step in to make sure things are handled until you are up and around again. In the event of your death, that person would manage the assets for the benefit of your child in the manner you’ve set forth. Your life insurance can be paid to your Trust so that the money is managed for your child by a responsible adult, the Trustee you’ve selected.
• A Financial Power of Attorney allows your “Agent” to take care of assets outside the Trust.
• A Health Care Power of Attorney (also known as an Advance Health Care Directive or Health Care Proxy) allows you to appoint someone to make health decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. Having your health decisions in capable hands means you’ll be able to recover faster to be with your child.
• The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits the release of protected health care information without your permission. It is important to make sure your loved ones and prospective decision-makers can access your health information, when necessary. A HIPAA Authorization Form ensures access to your protected health information for people whom you designate. This way people you designate can continue to get your health records, which may be crucial to your baby’s future well-being. For example, your child may need to know things about your medical history to diagnose their own medical issues.
A qualified estate planning attorney, who focuses his or her practice in estate planning, can help you put together a comprehensive plan that will care for you and your child in the event of your incapacity or even your death. Protect yourself and your baby from the unexpected. Call and schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney today. You’ll sleep better once you do….at least when the baby lets you!
Attorney Fleming is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and has been engaged in the practice of law for the last twenty years. For more information, call 814-943-5500.