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Planning Ahead for Baby

Pregnancy is a prime time to get your legal and financial affairs in order.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Just as you take your prenatal vitamins, eat healthfully, and avoid smoking and alcohol, there are other things that expectant moms and dads must take care of before baby's arrival. It's time to start planning for baby's legal and financial security, experts tell WebMD.

"Now that you are bringing a newborn into this world, you must begin to get serious about your future and the future of your family, " says David P. Lesch, a lawyer at Lesch & Lesch PC in the Bronx, New York. "A little planning goes a long, long way," he says.

Living Will to Protect Mom

Such planning starts with a living will. "Say something happens during the birth, a living will ensures that your wishes are carried out," Lesch tells WebMD. "Having your wishes on a piece of paper protects you so that no one can say this isn't what you wanted."

Another option is a health care proxy which gives someone else the right to make medical decisions for you in the event that you cannot. "If have to have one, pick a living will, but if you don't want a living will, then a health care proxy is the next best option," says Lesch.

A living will takes effect only when a person can no longer express his or her wishes. It clearly states which medical treatments may be used and which may not be. By contrast, a health care proxy names the person whom you designate to make such decisions for you.

"The health care proxy is more flexible than the living will because it permits the designated individual to make decisions as specific situations arise," Lesch says. "The living will states the desired treatments and does not allow for events that were not predicted."

Last Will and Testament to Protect Baby

Having a legal will is important once you start a family, Lesch tells WebMD. "You can protect your own assets and pick someone to take care of your children if something happens," he says. Remember that "a person must be over 18 to be a guardian and take care of your child. Wait until your child is born healthy before you decide who should be the godparents or legal guardian."

"Depending on your assets," Lesch says, "you may want to create a trust that provides for college education and your child's future as well as name a trustee to dole out the money."

By definition, a trust is a legal arrangement in which an individual gives control of property to a person or institution for the benefit of beneficiaries in this case, your offspring.

For example, you can state 'I want my child to have XX amount of money by age 18 for education, then the rest by time he or she is 30," he says. This way the guardian knows what to do with your money. "If you don't have a lawyer, get a lawyer to do your living will before delivery and your regular will fairly quickly after the baby is born to protect your baby," he says.

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