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Growing your family?
Written by Maria De Paz and Angela Teng
It's not as fun as creating a gift registry or planning a baby shower, but writing a will is one of the most important steps to becoming a parent.
Welcoming a baby into your family is an exciting time, and there’s a lot to think about - throwing a baby shower or a gender reveal party, creating a baby registry, decorating the nursery and perhaps an unforgettable maternity photoshoot.
There's also the less exciting things to sort out - leave from work, family finances, regular tests and scans, hospital visits and registering the baby, just to name a few.
But perhaps the most important thing you need to consider is who will look after your baby, if something happened to you and/or your partner.
“When you’re on the journey of parenthood and welcoming a baby, it can be confronting to think about your will and appointing someone else to look after your child,” says Ms Natalie Darcy, Senior Solicitor Estate Planning at NSW Trustee & Guardian.
“But it’s an important step to ensure your child is protected and provided for, no matter what life throws your way.”
A will allows you to make provisions for your children such as who would act as guardian, what gifts you would like them to inherit and how the inheritance will be managed for them until the time comes when they are able to manage it themselves.
“Choosing a guardian for your children is such an important decision. If you don’t document this in a valid Will”, says Ms Darcy, "there is a greater chance of disputes arising between people involved in the children’s lives (such as grandparents, uncles, aunts or family friends) about who will raise the children and a greater chance that the Court may have to decide. By appointing a guardian in your Will, you make your wishes clear and minimise the chance of disputes.”
“None of us know what’s around the corner, so we should take steps to be prepared and avoid leaving behind a logistical and emotional mess for our loved ones.”
A will that has been professionally prepared should put your mind at ease by answering the following questions:
Who will be the guardian(s) of your children? How will you want them to be looked after?
Who will be the executor(s) of your will?
How will your estate cover the costs of bringing up your child(ren)?
Who will be the trustee(s) while your child(ren)'s inheritance are held in trust?
What age do you want your child(ren) to receive full control of their inheritance?
Have you provided for any other dependents, including children from previous relationships?
Have you nominated the right beneficiaries in your superannuation or insurance policy?
While the idea of spending a few hundred dollars to have your will professionally written may not seem appealing during a time when you're already spending up big on the baby, it's worth the time and money in the long run. Having a legally valid will can help put your mind at ease and allow your survivors to avoid a complex and lengthy legal process to determine how your assets are distributed and who will look after your kids.
Ms Darcy encourages all new parents to have a Will in place, review it every three to five years, and update it when there are significant changes to circumstances.
NSW Trustee & Guardian is a trusted and professional government agency with the expertise to support you with life and legacy planning.
We have recently started offering video call appointments to draft wills. New parents may find this service a blessing, as you will be able to sort out this important piece of life admin from the comfort of your home.
All of a person’s property including real and personal e.g. bank accounts, realty, shares in companies, cash etc.
People, charities and organisations who you decide will receive or benefit from your estate when you pass away.
The assets or benefits you leave to beneficiaries in your Will.
Preparing to protect and transfer assets after you pass away in the most financially efficient and tax effective way.