With the birth of your child, you have just started a new chapter in your life. For the next 18 years and beyond, you are responsible for taking care of another life. While you may not have thought about it yet, now is the time to start estate planning. The simplest way to start is to create a will.

If you have a child, a will gives instructions for taking care of your child while providing financial security. You can create a plan that ensures your death doesn’t interfere with your child’s safety and security.

Making sure your child receives your financial assets

A will can cover multiple aspects of your estate. You can name your child as the beneficiary of your assets. This legally transfers all your assets to your child’s name, including your house, your bank accounts, your retirement accounts and anything else of value that you have. Since you won’t be around to take care of your child, your assets can ensure that he or she has financial security.

Choosing a trustworthy guardian

You can also name a guardian to take care of your child if you die. A will lets you choose who should take over as your child’s legal guardian. Instead of a court deciding, you can make sure a trusted family or friend takes over as your child’s caretaker.

What happens if you don’t have a will

If you die without a will, a New York probate court must decide on how to distribute all your assets. While your spouse and your child are the first in line for these assets, probate court may sell some of your assets to make them liquid or use assets to pay off debt.

If both you and your spouse have passed away, the probate court will also choose a guardian for your child. This guardian becomes responsible for both your child and your child’s inheritance. Since you didn’t have a will, you get no say in who this guardian is.

Planning now protects your child’s future

It might be scary to think about not being there for your new child. But if you don’t start planning your estate now, your child may end up with no financial security and an untrustworthy guardian. Creating a will is the first step in making sure you protect your child’s future, no matter what happens.