New Parents Need a Will. Here’s How To Get One

Written by Jonathan Breeden

September 4, 2021

Congratulations! You’re now a parent, and whether you have a newborn or adopted an older child, it’s time to start thinking long-term. It’s natural to worry about the future, but putting a plan in place can relieve a lot of stress about your child’s future and what would happen if you passed away before they’re grown.

Both parents should have a will, regardless of age or health. This article will explain what all new parents need to draft a will and the process of doing so.

Your Will Speaks for You (When You Can’t)

It’s not something new parents automatically think about. However, having a will ensures that important decisions are made according to your wishes.

A will outlines your intentions regarding the care of minor children, how to distribute your assets, and whom you want to carry out these acts.

Name a Legal Guardian for Your Child(ren)

Decide who you want to raise and care for your children. It might be a sibling, another family member, or a close friend. You may name a primary guardian and an alternative.

Choose an Executor & Beneficiaries

You determine your beneficiaries and how you want your estate distributed. Your estate includes all your assets: your home, car, bank accounts, and other items. Select a trusted individual to act as your executor to ensure your estate is allocated to your wishes.

Many people select their spouse as their executor; it can also be an adult child, sibling, or trusted friend.

The Executor’s Responsibilities

An executor is responsible for carrying out your wishes as described in the will.

This includes:

  • Distributing your estate to selected heirs
  • Paying taxes and debts
  • Other duties as needed to settle your estate

This person is responsible for seeing that all your requests are fulfilled, taxes and debts are paid, and that your property is distributed to your heirs, so pick someone you trust implicitly who can handle the financial duties of overseeing an estate.

Name a Trustee

You want to make sure that your children are financially supported. But you might not want them to have access to the money you set aside until they are older and more mature.

A trustee has a fiduciary obligation to administer funds within your child’s trust in the manner you choose. This individual could also be your executor or another family member, friend, or attorney.

What if You Don’t Make a Will?

According to North Carolina Intestate Succession laws, the local probate court appoints an administrator to distribute your assets if you die without a will. You cannot assume that your spouse inherits everything should you die intestate (without a will).

Most parents prefer to maintain control over their child’s guardianship and finances through a will.

Writing a Will

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare and write a will.

Take Inventory of Assets & Debts

State law requires that your estate pays taxes and debts before your heirs receive any money or assets. This requires you to take inventory of everything you own and what you owe.

Choose a Guardian

It is daunting to decide who has custody of your child should you pass away before they’re grown. A few characteristics you might consider:

  • Will they be physically capable of caring for your children?
  • Do their values and beliefs reflect your own?
  • Do they have the financial resources?
  • Will they honor specific customs or rituals, such as confirmation or bar mitzvah?

Get Documents Together

You’ll need certain legal documents to draft a valid will, including:

  • Birth certificates
  • Adoption decree
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce certificates
  • Property deeds
  • Insurance policy information (with designated beneficiaries)
  • Mortgage information

How Much Does Making a Will Cost?

You can buy software or download templates to write a will yourself. If you do a DIY will, you’ll still need to hire a notary and get two witnesses. Doing a will yourself costs less than going to an attorney, but you risk writing an invalid will.

Working with an attorney gives you the peace of mind that your will is properly drafted and enforceable. Otherwise, you have gone through the emotional and time-consuming process of selecting a legal guardian and executor only to have your estate go through probate.

Updating Your Will

You can revise and update your will to reflect a different legal guardian if your original choice can no longer serve in that capacity. You should update your will if you have or adopt more children, if your spouse passes away, or if you get divorced.

Get Help from a Family Law Attorney

Now that you’re a parent, you’ll need to take specific practical steps to protect your family. One of those steps is creating a will. For help with estate planning or other family legal matters in North Carolina, contact The Breeden Law Office.

For an initial consultation, contact us online or call (919) 661-4970.


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