Beyond the Birth Plan: 7 Legal Documents Every New Parent Needs

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Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! A new child makes you stop and reevaluate what’s important in life. And while we don’t want to stress you out — we promise you’ll thank us. The birth plan is just the first of many plans you’ll have to create now that you’re a parent. Do you have all the legal documents you need to protect your family? Now is the perfect time to make sure you have all your documents in order for you, your spouse, and your child(ren). It might not be a fun task — but it’s a necessary one — so try to get organized in between naps!

A will. This might be the most obvious item on the list, and it’s something that you probably know you should have, but do you? Many parents don’t actually have a will, so get ahead of the curve and start yours now. A will details who you designate to take care of your children in the long term and how your finances and other assets will be handled when you die. Hiring a lawyer to create your will is the easiest option, but if you can’t afford one, there are programs to help you. Check out Legal Zoom or Quicken for easy-to-understand alternatives.

A living will / advanced directive. Do you really need a will and a living will? Actually, yes — the two are quite different. A living will states what you want in terms of medical treatments if you become medically incapacitated. This one is hard to think about, but creating one ensures that the law will be able to take over in case of an emergency and prevents your family from having to make these decisions in your place.

Powers of attorney. There are many different types of powers of attorney, but by definition it designates a person to make financial, medical and legal decisions for you if you are unable. For example, the power of attorney for health care establishes who is in charge of your health care if you are unable to speak for yourself. Powers of attorney can take care of many different types of tasks in an emergency — even simple ones, such as writing a mortgage check.

Kid’s protection plan. Lots of people aren’t even aware this document exists, but it acts as a supplemental document to a will. While the will documents what happens to your children in the long term, a kid’s protection plan lays out what you want to happen in the days after an accident.

Passports. Being ready for the unexpected is the biggest takeaway we can give you! Passports aren’t life or death, but when you need a passport, you often need it quickly and without much warning. The process is long, but starting now will eliminate some of the stress that comes with an unforeseen event. View your state’s specific guidelines and get started today.

Account information. This also isn’t a life or death task, but it will come in handy in case you or your spouse is in the hospital. Keeping a spreadsheet on your family computer with every password, user name and security question answers may seem tedious, but it will be immensely helpful to have in an emergency and you need to access that account you haven’t used in years.

Trust. Trust us, we know nobody likes thinking about money, but establishing a trust now will get rid of headaches and family disputes down the line. A trust ensures that money that you designate to take care of your kids will remain protected. Contrary to popular belief, trusts aren’t just for families with tons of money — they’re important even for the rest of us. Talk to an estate planner to get started.

We know none of this stuff is fun to deal with — especially when you just want to fill your camera roll with pictures of the cutest baby on the planet — but the relief you’ll feel when everything is set up and in order will make your much deserved downtime feel even better. Make sure to contact a legal professional if you have any specific questions.