Having a Baby? A Legal & Financial Checklist for Expecting Parents

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting – and overwhelming – experiences a person can have.  From pre-natal yoga to nursery decorations, the preparations can seem endless.  And when the baby comes – forget all those things on your to-do list!  They’ll have to wait until next year.

That’s why we’ve put together a checklist of all the important legal and financial steps you might want to take care of before your bundle of joy arrives.  It’s best to take care of these things as early in the pregnancy.  The truth is that your life – and your financial situation – changes before your baby even sees the light of day.  By taking a few important steps, you can make sure your child would well taken care of in the event of unexpected circumstances that can occur even before the delivery date.

1.  Prepare a Budget

Adding a family member who needs round-the-clock care and an endless supply of diapers can wreck havoc on your finances.  Talk to your partner about creating a draft budget (which will inevitably require amending) that takes into consideration any changes to your income from one parent staying home or working reduced hours.  Working with a financial advisor can help you estimate changes to your spending and the effects of a reduction in income (if one parent reduces their work hours or decides to stay home).  An advisor can also help you make sure you have all the necessary financial protections in place.

2.  Get Life Insurance.

For most parents, life insurance plays a critical role in making sure your baby would be taken care of if anything happened to you.  If you haven’t purchased a solid life insurance prior to conception, get it as soon as possible afterwards.  Even though your baby isn’t here, yet, it’s possible for the baby to survive you in the event of an accident.  For the mother, it’s best to get life insurance prior to getting pregnant.  You may not be able to secure coverage during a pregnancy.

3.  Get Disability Insurance.

Make sure you have comprehensive disability insurance in place.  We assume you’ve done at least a back-of-the-envelop calculation of whether you can afford a new family member based on your current income.  Now imagine you develop a disability and aren’t able to continue at your present job – or at a job that would earn you close to your present salary.  You still have a baby on the way!  It’s important to make sure you have comprehensive disability insurance to protect your family in the event of an unexpected disability.  For a mother, it’s best to get disability insurance prior to getting pregnant.  As with life insurance, a pregnancy can affect an insurance carrier’s willingness to issue disability insurance.

4.  Set Aside Money for an Emergency Fund.

It’s important for everyone to have a financial cushion to hold you over in case of a temporary loss of income from the loss of a job.  This cushion is even more important if you have a baby on the way.  You don’t want a job layoff to affect your ability to pay for medical bills from pregnancy complications or other essentials expenses that come with the birth of a baby.

5.  Check Your Healthcare Policy.

You want to make sure that your child has healthcare coverage as soon as he or she comes out of the womb and that there is no interruption in coverage due to an administrative glitch.  Check with your insurance carrier to find out what steps you need to take to make sure your child is added to your policy as soon as possible.

6.  Check Your Employer’s Parental Leave Policy.

Your employer’s parental leave policy can have a big effect on your financial situation after the birth of your child.  Check how many weeks you can take off and whether that time would be paid or unpaid.  Make sure you’re receiving at least the minimum leave guaranteed by law.

7.  Have Legal Documents Prepared.

It’s not necessary to wait until your child is born to put important legal documents into place.  As noted above, it’s possible that your unborn baby could survive you in an accident or illness.  It’s best to have some basic documents in place to protect your child in that scenario.  A will, trust, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy can help ensure that your family is protected and your wishes are carried out.  Read about how an estate plan can protect your family.

Hopefully this legal and financial checklist for expecting parents will help you get on the right track!  To keep abreast of the best ways to protect your family and plan for your future, Join the Savvy Parents Community.  It’s FREE!

About the Author

Shannon McNulty

Shannon McNulty is the founder of Savvy-Parents.com and a lawyer in New York City who provides legal planning for parents with young children. Shannon received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her LL.M. in Taxation from NYU School of Law. She has also earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) designation. You can learn more about Shannon and her firm at www.cityparentslaw.com.

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