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Updating estate plans after having children

New parents in Pennsylvania may be wondering how to adjust their estate plans. Parents can set up a revocable trust to protect a child's inheritance and appoint a trustee to administer it. If a child has special needs, parents can establish a special needs trust to ensure that the child will have the resources that he or she requires. A special needs trust will not necessarily disqualify the child from receiving government benefits.

An important step is to nominate a guardian in case the parents pass away or become incapacitated. In addition, parents should designate an emergency guardianship proxy who can care for a child or children if the parents are not able to do so. For example, if both parents are away on vacation and a child requires medical care, an emergency guardian can make medical decisions on the child's behalf.

In addition to becoming a parent, estate plans should be evaluated and updated throughout a person's life. Events such as marriage, having a child or divorce present perfect opportunities to assess an estate plan and make adjustments. For example, if a couple gets divorced, the former spouses may want to revoke documents including power of attorney or beneficiary designations.

An estate planning attorney can review an estate plan and help with the updating process. Some items that an attorney may review are the designations for HIPPA release forms, health care proxy and durable power of attorney. If anything requires adjustment or updating, an attorney may revise documents or draft new ones, depending on the circumstances. Copies of the updated estate planning documents might be stored at the attorney's office for safe keeping.

Source: Bankrate, "8 life stages of estate planning", G.M. Filisko , Jan. 9, 2015

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