Congratulations on the arrival of your little bundle of joy! Having a baby is an amazing experience, but it can also be a bit bewildering. It takes time to adjust to your new role as Mum or Dad: suddenly you are responsible for a tiny human being, and the overwhelming feeling is the need to protect and provide for them.
Getting some key documents in place can give you real peace of mind.
Make a will
Making a will is an important first step to ensure that your family will be looked after, whatever happens. Within your will you can appoint a legal guardian for your child in case you should pass away before they grow up, and you can also ensure the financial security of your child and leave instructions as to any possessions you wish to pass on. A will can also take future babies into account, although you’ll need to update it. If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to legal rules known as the rules of intestacy. This may not be what you want for your child or partner.
Appoint a guardian
If your child is under 18 when you die, the surviving parent will most likely be the guardian, as long as they have parental responsibility. However, if there is no one with parental responsibility, the court will decide on a guardian, and may appoint a complete stranger. This is why it is so important that you nominate a guardian for your child, either in a will or in a separate document. The guardian would usually be someone that you trust implicitly with your child’s wellbeing.
See ‘Who should I appoint as my child’s guardian in my will?’ for further information.
Set up a trust fund
You may have some money set aside for your child in your will, but you wouldn’t want them to inherit this money before they are mature enough to handle it. If so, you can set up a trust, which will look after the money until they reach a specific age. Many parents choose the age 21, but you can choose any age you like. When your child reaches that age, the trust will come to an end, and they will receive the money.
Make a power of attorney
If you lose mental capacity because of illness, an accident or for any other reason, having a lasting or enduring power of attorney in place can protect both you and your family. This document gives an individual(s) of your choice the legal authority to look after your wellbeing and/or finances if you are unable to look after yourself. You can nominate a trusted family member or friend, and feel safe in the knowledge that your best interests and your child’s will be taken care of if you are unable to make decisions. This kind of power of attorney must be made while you have full mental capacity. It does not have to be used until it is needed.
Take out life insurance
Life insurance is definitely worth considering. This can give you peace of mind that if you/your partner were to die, the surviving partner or your child would receive a lump sum that could go towards supporting their needs during what is bound to be a very difficult time. You can never be too financially prepared.
The above gives just an overview of some important areas to consider. For help deciding what is best for you and your family, speak to a qualified advisor.