Expectant Parents Need To Have A Will

Published in The Post Standard, March 2003

A new child will bring many changes to your life. For many people, the first time that they see a lawyer to draft a Will is when they have a child.

In the early years of the marriage before there are any children, the Will is usually quite simple. Each spouse leaves everything to the other spouse. However, once there are minor children, it is very important to plan for who would care for the children should both spouses die. The person you name in your Will who would care for your children after your death is called the guardian of your children.

The guardian should be someone you trust to raise your children as you would raise them. Many people choose a brother or sister as the guardian. However, the law does not require that the guardian be a relative. You can choose a friend to be the guardian.

If you have children, your Will should first leave all the assets to your spouse; but if your spouse were deceased, then the Will should provide that all the assets would be given to your children in trust. Any life insurance, 401-K and IRA should also name as beneficiary first your spouse and then the trust created in your Will for the benefit of your children.

The guardian may not have enough money of their own to raise the children. The money that will provide for your children's upbringing and college education will come from the assets that you and your spouse owned at your death and any life insurance policies, 401-K assets and IRA assets.

Thus, your Will has accomplished two very important goals; it has provided a guardian who will physically care for your children and it has provided the money to raise your children.

Mr. Stephen T. McMahon is an elder law attorney at the McMahon Law Firm in Camillus, New York. The McMahon Law Firm is an estate planning law firm. Mr. McMahon is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School and has practiced law in both New York and California. For more information call 800.391.9987 or you can e-mail your questions to Mr. McMahon at Email me