Our daughter arrived last Valentine’s Day, so I know firsthand that one of the most exciting times in life is the moment you find out you are expecting a new little bundle of joy.

From that moment, preparations quickly ensue. While most parents succeed in having the crib assembled, the tiny clothing washed and hung in the closet, and the bags packed before leaving for the hospital, many parents fail to have one of the most essential items checked off of their “must-have” list: an estate plan.

An estate plan is crucial to protecting your children.  Here are 3 reasons why.

1. You can plan for your children’s short- and long-term guardianship. Imagine you and your spouse are involved in a serious car accident on the way home after a date night. You are both rushed to the hospital. Have you planned for where your children should go and who is going to watch them in the immediate aftermath of an accident? What if you and your spouse do not survive the accident? Have you selected the person you would prefer to raise your children? These are unpleasant thoughts, to be sure, but that’s no excuse for failing to make these critical decisions today.

2. You can plan for medical emergencies while your children are under the supervision of a nanny or babysitter. Did you know that you can authorize the nanny or babysitter to make an emergency medical decision for your children in case you and your spouse are unavailable? Making this arrangement is wise, especially if you and your spouse work out of the home or travel frequently.

3. You can plan for the management of your children’s property. Remember the serious car accident? Let’s say you and your spouse die as a result. Have you thought about what would happen to your property? How about life insurance proceeds? Bank account balances? Minor children cannot own property. So you and your spouse can either prepare now and express your specific desires as to what should happen to your property on behalf of your children, or you may leave the matter for a court to decide. It’s your call.

So, go ahead, buy the baby monitor and cabinet locks. But don’t overlook the estate plan. Too much is at stake.

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