Something must be in the air – I have a lot of friends having babies! Having a baby and becoming a parent for the first time is exciting, but also very scary. There are many legal implications of having a baby and/or expanding your family. Here are my top 10 tips to make sure that you take legal steps to safeguard your family’s wellbeing and future:
Tip #1: Establish a will and appoint a guardian. This is someone that would care for your child if, god forbid, something should happen to you and your spouse. Some people also carry a card in their wallets stating that they have children and identify the guardian, in case of an emergency.
Tip #2: Make sure you receive your child’s birth certificate and social security card in the mail. At the hospital where you deliver, you will fill out paperwork that will be filed for you to receive both these documents. You will receive this in the mail within the first few weeks after your child’s birth. It is also advisable to make photocopies of these documents. If you are traveling, you should have a copy of your child’s birth certificate with you.
Tip #3: Keep a copy of your child’s immunization records. Since many children receive their first immunizations in the hospital, this is also useful to bring to your pediatrician at your first visit. These might also be necessary for certain travel.
Tip #4: Check to make sure you take all steps necessary to add your child to your health insurance plan. This is important because amidst all the excitement, and terror at seeing your hospital bill, you will want to make sure the insurance company knows about your new little one and has him or her added on your policy. You should advise your health insurance company before the birth that you are expecting a child. Once the child is born, you should call the insurance company to confirm the birth and confirm that the child is added to your plan. Any doctors or health care your child receives will be covered retroactively from the date of birth, although it may take several days for the health insurance company to officially add your child to the plan.
Tip #5: Start planning for the financial future, and start saving for college. It is also a good idea to print out your recent statements from retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc. to get an idea of your financial position. I also suggest talking to a financial planner (I can recommend a few).
Tip #6: Obtain life insurance, if you do not have a plan already in place. I have people that I recommend so please reach out if you need a referral.
Tip #7: Consider making a health care proxy and a living will. These will be important in the event you become incapacitated and/or need end of life care.
Tip #8: Consider establishing a trust. An attorney experienced in estate planning can help you decide if you need a trust and can create one for you. A trust can be funded with anything, including livestock!
Tip #9: Ask about maternity/paternity leave. Find out about the policy for maternity/paternity leave at your job and what rights you have to take time off to bond with your baby and heal from the birth.
Tip #10: Consult with an accountant about how the new baby will affect your annual tax return…although children are costly, there is a tax benefit for having them as well!
Congrats on the new addition! Rincker Law, PLLC can help you with your legal needs for your changing family. If you have specific questions, please speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.