For many new parents, the legal world is foreign, confusing and expensive. However, there are certain things that should be considered.   I am not a lawyer, so these are only tips I’ve found helpful.  You need to consult an attorney for anything specific – laws vary by state and change constantly.

Here are some of the questions you may ask an attorney before engaging services:

  1. What kind of experience/specialty do you have?
  2. What kind of response time should we expect when we call with questions?
  3. What are your billing rates? Will your services be based upon a fixed fee for the project or hourly?
  4. Will I be billed monthly or upon completion of the project?
  5. How does the process work from beginning to end, and what is the timetable?
  6. Are there any expenses for which we will be responsible?

Here are legal documents parents may consider for their families:

  • Will – Guardianship for your children, who will handle the children’s money until they are of age; and at what age your child receives unbridled control of funds
  • Durable power of attorney for healthcare – If your spouse cannot make healthcare decisions for you, who will?
  • Durable power of attorney for financial matters – If your spouse cannot make financial decisions for you, who will pay the bills?
  • Living will – What are your decisions regarding your right to live or die?
  • General estate planning – Consider taking care of parents or pets and your child’s special needs

A tax and estate expert, Stuart H. Sorkin, P.C., Esq., has provided valuable information for this post. Mr. Sorkin is a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm, Hughes and Bentzen, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Time and Money magazines on exit strategies, income, and estate tax planning.

This expert has shared his questionnaire (PDF) to get your conversation rolling.

Please note – This website is not intended to give legal advice, merely a springboard for conversation.

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