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Wills and estate planning for parents

As a new parent, thinking about what might happen if you or your partner passes away can be uncomfortable. However, ensuring that your children and assets are cared for as you intended is very important.

There are some benefits of creating a will and other estate planning steps for parents to consider.

Create or update your will

If you didn’t get a chance to review (or write) your will before your new family member arrived, it’s a good idea to do it sooner rather than later. 

A will is an essential legal document that establishes your wishes to distribute your property and care for minor children when you die. It’s important to know that if you don't specify who is best suited to look after your children if you and your spouse die prematurely, the state will. 

In addition, consider that under some state intestacy laws, if you are married at the time of your death, your current spouse may inherit all your assets. If you have children from a previous marriage, this may not be what you intended. If you and your spouse both have wills, naming the same guardian can reduce the potential for disputes. If you don’t have a choice or don’t name a guardian, the court will appoint a guardian if you and the child’s other parent pass away.*

Set up a power of attorney and health care directives

This can include naming a health care proxy and writing a living will in case you can’t make financial or health care decisions for yourself. If you and your partner aren’t married, you may need to take these steps to help ensure the ability to make decisions for each other should something happen.

Update beneficiaries on your accounts

After any big change in your life, checking the beneficiaries named on your financial accounts and insurance is a good idea. This helps ensure that they are up-to-date and reflect your current wishes. Beneficiaries named on your accounts take precedence over instructions given in other estate planning documents, including a will, so making sure they are up to date can be a key piece of your estate plan. 

Trusts and more complex needs 

Depending on your financial situation, more extensive estate planning may be necessary, like setting up trusts to manage your assets. Consider speaking with a financial professional to evaluate your potential estate planning needs.

Protect what matters most with an estate plan

The Fidelity Estate Planner® will guide you through the estate planning process—for free.

More to explore

*Deborah Nason, “‘Your loved ones will already be in a state of trauma.’ The ramifications of dying without a will,” CNBC, October 29, 2022,

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.

Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.