Estate Planning for New Parents
1. Medical Documents for the Hospital
Whenever a mother goes to the hospital to deliver her baby, it is vitally important that she provide copies of certain estate planning documents to the hospital and her physician.
Such documents include mom’s (1) Health Care Power of Attorney, (2) HIPAA authorization, and (3) her Living Trust and Will. In some instances, either parent can provide these documents to the hospital where the delivery is to occur during a pre-birth registration. It is best practice however for the mother to pre-register with a hospital and have the Agent under the Power of Attorney keep copies of these documents. So too, parents should request that copies of the documents be included in both mom’s and baby’s file.
Finally, attention should be given to the mother’s Living Will. In Arizona, a mother can state that if she is faced with a medical problem affecting her life, she can request to be kept alive in order to save the life of her child.
2. Nominating a Guardian for the Baby
Although it may sound unusual to nominate a guardian for an unborn child, it certainly would be prudent to nominate a guardian if the mother (particularly a single mother) has a complication of child birth resulting in her incapacity or death. A last Will and Testament can include provisions to plan for such an unfortunate event. Moreover, this type of action would be of serious consideration if child’s father is active duty military and serving during a time of war.
3. Discuss Medical Issues Regarding your new Child
With the birth of any child, public health laws dictate the types of medical examinations, vaccinations and tests that may be legally required. However, some people may not believe vaccinations are necessary, or should be held off for some time. These issues should be discussed between the parents and then with the attending physician in advance of the birth. Sometimes moral and religious beliefs play a large role in this type of planning and should be honored by your healthcare provider except where state public health laws mandate otherwise.
4. The Birth Certificate
Every child will be issued a birth certificate after he or she is born. The information in this document is confidential and protected by privacy laws in Arizona. New parents should give serious consideration to (1) the child’s name (2) and other personally identifying information included on the document (including the newly issued social security number). New parents should be cognizant of the fact that a child’s social security number can be compromised by those who might want to commit identify theft. Accordingly, consideration should be given as to how this information might be protected.
5. Changes in Health Insurance and Life Insurance
With the rising costs of raising a child, new parents should consider increasing existing life insurance to pay for the care, education, and upbringing of the child in the event of a parent’s death.
With health insurance, after the child’s birth, a parent will need to contact their Health Insurance provider to discuss adding the child to the insurance policy if the policy permits such action. When the action is not allowed, a new health insurance policy should be obtained within approximately 30-days.
Likewise, consideration should be given to obtaining separate life insurance for the child as well.
6. Make an Appointment to Review your Estate Plan
After your child’s birth, it is prudent for parents to meet with their estate planning attorney to discuss changes that may need to be made to an existing plan which can include a Living Trust or Will. Provisions to consider could include naming a specific successor trustee for a child’s inheritance and staggering the distributions of the child’s inheritance based on the child’s age. Other strategies can include having certain incentives drafted into a trust so that the child will receive an education before receiving an inheritance; or, that the child will become the trustee of their separate trust share upon reaching a certain age.
All in all, when a baby is born, consulting with your estate planning attorney to review these issues and others is a good step in celebrating the joy this new life brings to you and your family.
IMPORTANT: Neither this blog article nor any information on this website shall be construed as the offering or rendering of any legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Mesch Clark Rothschild, (“MCR”) or any attorney at MCR. You should consult with an attorney if you have a specific question regarding your legal issues.