You might have planned for what school district you want to live in or what brand of diaper you’ll use, but new children shift a person’s priorities in ways they have never considered. Those shifting priorities mean that it is time to review — or create — your estate plan.
According to Forbes, a study published last year shows that more people delay having children each year. Among the most cited reason for this increasing first-time parenthood age, is that people wish to be more financially secure before having kids. But greater financial security means that you may need to make a more comprehensive estate plan to secure your heir’s future.
A quick overview of an estate plan
A common misconception is that an estate plan is just one document. In fact, it is a series of documents that build on each other to offer comprehensive protection for families and their assets. Whether or not you already have an estate plan, it will serve to understand what goes into one. It can include:
- Wills: Wills are a standard estate planning tool that simply describes one’s wishes for the distribution of their assets. In Oregon, wills may not be hand-written or verbal, and there a number of ways for one to revoke a will.
- Trusts: Like a will in many ways, a key difference between a will and a trust is that one transfers ownership of their assets to a trust before their death. Oregon law recognizes several types of trusts, and it may benefit you to speak with an attorney before choosing how to make your trust.
- Power of Attorney: This document provides a person of your choosing with financial and legal authority over you in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. In Oregon, these powers can be limited in certain ways or comprehensive.
- Living Wills: It is here that you will describe your wishes should you ever find yourself medically incapacitated. A living will often includes end of life care and resuscitation wishes.
If you have an estate plan, it may cover all these pieces. But having a child means that your estate plan may no longer work for your situation.
Think of the future, today
Starting a family isn’t a simple decision. It may take you years to decide you’re ready, but when you do get mentally prepared, make sure you take the legal preparations as well.