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Financial Documents For Young Families

Have you recently welcomed your first child into your family? If so, it may be time to get some of your financial documents in order. These are some things you may not have considered before having a baby. This video from SmartMoney TV [1] quickly runs down the basics: which documents are necessary and why.

smartmoney-tv.jpg [1]

1. Draft a Will. A will is a legal way to assign a guardian [2], because the court won’t recognize survivor’s claims. Also, without a will, your estate will be split between your surviving spouse and children by default in many states. Your will can ensure that the money is distributed as you see fit. Here are more reasons to draft a will [3]. Watch out for companies selling overpriced will kits. Here’s an example last will and testament to get you thinking about what to include.

2. Set Up a Trust. Trusts define who is charge of the estate should something happen to both parents. It also can define the age at which point the children would receive money. In the interview within the video, the couple has decided that their children would not receive their inheritance until their mid-thirties. Here are instructions [4] for setting up a trust.

3. Get Term Life Insurance. The financial advisor interviewed in the piece recommends getting five times your annual income in term life insurance [5]. Term life insurance is often recommended over whole life insurance. This article from Motley Fool is a good introduction. [6]

4. Check Your Beneficiary Designations. Retirement benefits, 401(k)s, and IRAs are passed on [7] to individuals outside of your will, based on the beneficiary designations you choose, usually when initially setting up your account. I don’t currently have beneficiaries on my retirement accounts. I should take some time to update this. You can change beneficiaries as often as you want, and if you have someone in your life, there’s no point in waiting.

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3 Comments To "Financial Documents For Young Families"

#1 Comment By Anonymous On April 13, 2007 @ 9:29 am

I have read a lot about how having a will is important, however, we never really seriously think about it. One of many reasons is that we are still young and it may not be the time to prepare for the *worst* yet. I am wondering how many in their 30s have a will.

#2 Comment By Anonymous On April 13, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

Five times salary for life insurance seems a bit low, but I guess it depends on your situation.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On April 14, 2007 @ 10:43 am

We’ve been putting off making a will since the begining of the year. It is so hard to figure out if you should pay someone, do it on the web, by a software pacakge, etc. What is a fair rate? Do you know of any general guidelines like if you have under 100k, do it on the web. I you have more then pay someone? I need to do my research and knock this one out soon.