29 Weeks: The Paperwork

You often hear new parents exclaim: “I can’t believe I’m going to be responsible for another human.”

In general, I think this implies feeding, nurturing, bathing – simple life-sustaining needs.

But as the reality of babyhood sets in, I’ve realized there are other tasks that come with the job of parenthood. And some of them are not so pleasant not because they involve poop, but something worse: paperwork.


Here is a list of things I have thought of that need to be considered when bringing a new life into the world. Please note I am not an expert on them – just compiling a list of things in my head that I probably should look into soon.

1) Health Insurance – My understanding from a call to my insurance company is that you have to have a baby before you can get him on your health insurance. Otherwise I would do this in advance! But I suppose the reasoning makes sense given the worst case scenario. I think an infant is an additional $75 or so to our coverage each month, which seems reasonable considering how many doctors visits he will probably need. I believe the person told me we have 30 days to get him enrolled after birth.

2) A Will – This is probably even more important/complicated if you are not married to the baby’s father, but in most states married couples pass on all of their assets to their spouse upon death, and then their children when both spouses die, unless stated otherwise. [I think!] So for a married couple family of three, it seems a bit unnecessary at this point. But what if we all died? I think it’s probably time to create one…

3) Guardianship – Speaking of the awful topic of double death, who would care for the baby if Matt and I died? This paperwork seems unlikely, but if the worst were to happen….. Probably another thing to get in legal writing. Hopefully we could combine this with will writing.

4) Life Insurance – Thankfully we got life insurance last year, and since we knew we were planning to start trying soon, we pretended we had a baby when we talked through how much coverage we would need. Again, this is a hard topic to think about, but if you died and your husband/partner couldn’t take care of the baby because of work, how much would childcare cost? And for how many years?

5) College Savings Plan – More paperwork!! Probably something that can wait a little bit, but not too long since the sooner you get started the better.

You moms have been so helpful sharing your advice for pregnancy and parenting, but I would love some advice when it comes to the legal and paperwork stuff. If you’ve just gone through it, is there any way to make these tasks a bit easier to do? And am I missing anything big?



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88 thoughts on “29 Weeks: The Paperwork”

  1. We decided to remortgage and create a will before Peanut was born and omg talk about paperwork and phone call sand ahh! And since my work doesn’t give you more than 1 week paid maternity, we signed up for additional short term insurance. Then my work got some additional short term insurance so after the baby was born I spent most of my waking hours talking to insurance companies about getting paid for a couple of weeks from short term insurance. Paperwork, headaches, and a lot of phone arguments. NOT FUN

  2. We actually just met with a lawyer recently to do a will. It is SO important (and we dragged our feet on it). We were most worried about who would get our son in an unfortunate event where we both passed, but there are many other things you probably want in writing. Typically spouses act as each other’s medical and financial power of attorney if the other is incapacitated, but what if you both are? You each want to list 1-2 medical and financial powers of attorney, as well as backups to the guardian for your child. there were a lot of things we just hadn’t considered outside of who would take guardianship of our son. Meeting with a lawyer who specializes in this can help you make sure all your bases are covered….

  3. Ladies, please take what she is saying serious. My mom didn’t talk to me about this growing up. So when I ha my kids I didn’t plan for college, life insurance, or health insurance. Granted I was in the Navy and stayed for 20 to make sure they were covered in life and in my death. But when I retired I only had health insurance for them nothing else. Now with medical problems it’s hard to get insurance for myself. They are touchy subjects but it’s worth knowing that your babies will be taken care of.

  4. We are doing a will now. All on your list are really important! Last July, our small Jewish community had a terrible tragedy where a family was on a road trip and the parents died and all kids were injured in a collision. Bad things happen and you have to be prepared. Since you’re talking paperwork, you can request multiple original copies of the birth certificate. A lot of places ask for originals.

  5. Ha, I finished my PhD a year before having my daughter, so I was always AMAZED at how LITTLE paperwork there was involved with bringing a new person into the world! Over 200 pages for a PhD, and maybe a couple forms for a whole new person!
    I would check out http://www.thesimpledollar.com for advice on life insurance, wills, etc. He’s got lots of great practical advice for these types of things.
    When we got our will made up they did the guardianship at the same time, it’s standard to do both at once. They will also give you the wording you need for your life insurance to properly pay out. Getting the wills made up were really straightforward – two simple visits to a lawyer, maybe an hour or so of work total. And you definitely want a will – once you start to do a little research on it, you’ll find out that without a will all your money and assets will be held by the state in probate and it will take time/money for them be available to your child – you don’t want this to happen!
    Adding your baby to your health insurance isn’t a big deal at all – remember, they do it all the time! For me it was just a simple form to fill out and mail in. You’re right, you usually have 30 days after birth to complete it, and your pediatrician will be understanding that you won’t have insurance for the first few visits and will hold off on charging you until your insurance goes through.
    You should definitely do a LOT of research on a college savings plan – there are tons of things to consider – many pros and cons for the different plans, if you want to do a 579 at all! There are many different schools of thought on it, and you want to be careful you’re not tying up money that you won’t be able to access for what your child will need.
    Don’t worry – the paperwork is easy and straightforward to take care of. Everything else with parenthood is more complicated!

  6. Another important part of guardianship is what happens to your assets if your child/ren are under 18? Sell all the property and set up a trust fund? Give it all to your legal guardian? If you do a trust fund, do they get the rest at a certain age (21 or 25 usually) or installments for life?

  7. Hi Kath,

    My hubby and I are going through all of this right now, so I feel for you! One more thing to add, although it might not be that important for you first thing (but is for us as we live overseas and also each of us are from a different country) – passport. For our situation, we have do do this asap, because if anything happened and we needed to leave and go back home, we would need the passport to leave the country. Probably good to have in any case eventually (but you have to wait for the baby to be born to get it, obviously).

    Also, for religious types, there might be some talks/paperwork to get in order for infant baptism/specifying godparents that parents might want to check into with their clergy and/or place of worship, or at least discuss while things are still calm…

  8. I am very ashamed to admit this because I am a paralegal and we do Wills, but we STILL haven’t had ours prepared (which will include guardianship) and also a good idea to have powers of attorney in place. I would ALWAYS advise anyone else to have this paperwork in place for like you said, “worst case scenarios” that do actually happen. I think the thought of my child not having either of his parents bothers me too much to face naming someone who, of course, would do a great job, but are not Mommy and Daddy. God it tears me up imagining him growing up without US – gah!

    On the life insurance part. Something we didn’t think about until our broker brought it up when we were updating our policies is that it’s good planning to have a policy in place if anything ever happened to your child and not just the parents. God, I will start crying if I continue to talk like this, but the idea is, the policy will cover funeral expenses plus up to a year of financial security to allow for time off of work for bereavement. This thought never crossed my mind before, but it’s true when you think about it. I couldn’t imagine jumping back into the M-F grind after such a tragic worst possible scenario in my life.

    Seriously, tears are forming, so I must shut up now.

    1. Angie – Take the emotion out of the situation. Just sit down and decide the best plan and don’t overthink it in the sense of dwelling on it. A lot of things in life are unpleasant – but that doesn’t mean that they will happen. We cannot predict the future. The best you can do is to simply make the proper decisions for ‘worst case scenarios’ but then step away from it, live your life and remain in the present.

  9. It is true – kids bring loads of paperwork and I loathe every form!

    We opted not to do a college plan for a ton of reasons. I should preface this with the fact that we’re very pro-college – my husband teaches at an ivy league college and I have my MBA and do freelance consulting. First, we can’t finance our retirement but we/children can finance their own college education. Second, the fees and interest rates on most states’ 529 plans are awful. Anyone who can pick a few stocks out and follow the market could more than likely make a substantially better ROI (at least over 8%) than any college savings plans. Sure, you don’t get the tax savings but the money made on the investment will be better than any money you might have deducted from taxes. Lastly, I don’t like that the money is only limited for college. What if our children have a medical condition or come into a serious situation where $20K would be helpful? Not to mention the money you have allocated for college would limit loan amounts and scholarship opportunities there might be available.

    Our plan is to continue to save save save! I would never disclose to my child that they have money for college automatically. We’ll let them figure it out, with guidance, and if we are in a situation to help, we will but only after graduation. We’ve seen too many kids with silver spoons not work as hard as others and we want to be careful.

      1. College? Better start saving for kindergarten! We were SHOCKED with tuition rates for kindergarten (and elementary school) if one chooses private vs. public schools for whatever the reason. It’s as much as college tuition and I’m not even kidding. Wish I was.

    1. I really agree with your perspective! I HATE that parents are expected to pay for their kid’s college education. My parents partially paid for mine and I feel really bad when I see where it put them in terms of their retirement. Also, I agree that a child may not be able to use it for college and then you’re taxed on all the money when it’s withdrawn from a 529. It’s really not the best system!

      1. Agreed. I would never pay for my children’t education. I know a lot of people would look down on that – but they are grown up at that point. They have to start making their own decisions, look after themselves – AND learn how to handle/budget money.

        Parents trying to pay for their kid’s education is a big reason why much of America is in huge debt. Parents are trying to pay off mortgages, car loans, etc. – and a child’s education. You can’t do it. You can’t add to the debt.

        This was on an Oprah show before – Suze Orman talked about it 😉

    2. I agree. The best financial advise I’ve read and heard is save for your retirement and emergencies first before saving for college. Plus, there is nothing wrong with our kids paying for college whether it is through jobs, scholarships, etc. Both my hubby and I are college graduates (undergrad for me and MBA for him) and we paid for college ourselves. Our parents helped when they could – which wasn’t much – but we both didn’t see it as their responsibility.

    3. “We’ve seen too many kids with silver spoons not work as hard as others and we want to be careful.”

      I agree, but also remember that kids who are getting financial help from their parents also don’t work hard sometimes. It’s not just the privileged people. For example, my college was free (my mom works at a school, and I used the Tuition Exchange program). I would say that’s pretty silver spoon. I worked my butt off so as not to waste my mom’s and her work’s generous opportunity. I guess my point is… raise your kids with the work ethic you value, and they won’t slack, financial help or no financial help 🙂

      1. I agree. My parents were able to pay for my college education with the help of the scholarships I received. They were also able to pay the same amount for my sister. She chose to go to a more expensive school and has some loans. I appreciate every single dollar they spent and worked so hard because that is how they raised me. Our job was to do well in school and we knew it. I am hoping that we can give our daughter the same gift and raise her with the same expectations.

    4. I’m a college junior, I work 40+ hours a week at a bar, I am on financial aid, and I’ve already taken out numerous loans. I work hard to make ends meet and will likely have to get on food stamps sometime soon because I’m just not sure how I’m going to make ends meet. To put it simply, I work hard. That being said, do I plan on creating college saving funds for my future children? ABSOLUTELY.

      When I get out of college, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in debt and because I’m going to school to be a teacher, my first year out I’ll actually be paying graduate student fees whilst I student teach. I’ll undoubtedly have to get a second job and end up continuing to wait tables a few nights a week while teaching. College is hard, and expensive and although there are people out there that manage to do it without their parents’ help, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

      1. I agree with Amanda – there is nothing terrible in helping your children partially or completely to pay college tuition and living expenses. My point of view is that you bring kids to the world, you have responsibilities and those go beyond clothing and food. Education is essential in today’s world and we, as responsible parents, must help as much as we can. I left graduate school with 60 grand in debt (that is AFTER scholarships for academic merit, etc). I worked hard and never took anything for granted, yet my father, who was in a very good financial position to help (no worries about retirement on his end), did not contribute a cent to my education. Naturally, I did not expect to have all my expenses covered – I attended a pricy private school for excellent academic ratings and future job prospects – but I must say that my relationship with my father is altered due to the fact that he did not take any financial responsibility / never offered to help. Not all children are brats with entitlement issues, a lot of kids out there appreciate the help from a loving family.

  10. We JUST did life insurance and a will (and advanced health care directives and powers of attorney) a few days ago, even though my son is almost 2. It is so easy to put this off because they are conversations you never want to have.

    We used legacywriter.com to do all of those documents (except life insurance) for a very small fee. DEFINITELY worth the time and money spent, and we didn’t have to get a lawyer to do it. So easy. You are so smart to do it before the baby comes!

  11. We bought a packet of estate planning documents from a legal website (I can’t remember if it was LegalZoom or one of their competitors – regardless, I’m sure they all have something similar) for about $100. Before it selected the right packet for us, it asked where we lived, if we were single or married, if we had kids, etc. so that it could give us the right set. The packet came with customizable Word documents for a will, a general durable power of attorney, a healthcare directive, estate planning questionnaire/worksheet, and a document inventory worksheet, as well as instructions on how to complete and file all of the documents properly and sample completed versions of each document. The healthcare directive has to be signed by 2 witnesses; the power of attorney has to be signed by 2 witnesses and a notary; and the will has to be signed by 2 witnesses and a “testatrix” (no idea what that means – will have to figure out if a notary is sufficient or if it needs to be an attorney). Regardless, we will probably have an attorney look over the completed documents before they’re signed, but altogether I anticipate a lower fee than having an attorney create the documents for us from scratch.

    1. Eek. This is why I cringe when people do their legal documents through Legal Zoom. “Testatrix” is the person whose will it is, ie you.

      Keep in mind that these documents are something that will be used when you are no longer around to say what you meant. If you don’t have a lawyer draft them, you run the risk that if they ever need to be used, they won’t accomplish what you meant. And, a lawyer knows the right questions to ask that go beyond “list your children in the blank space here.”

      As an attorney who does this kind of work I have seen the errors from Legal Zoom documents that cause the family so much stress during an already stressful time. If you are budgeting for strollers, car seats, cloth diapers, maternity clothes, life insurance, etc. don’t skimp on the legal planning! Include that in your baby registry if you need to, but get it done with a lawyer so you know its done right.

      1. Agree x 100. Both my husband and I are attorneys, yet even we would have an E&T attorney review a will or DPOA because that is not in either of our specialties. You would not want someone else incorrectly interpreting your wishes because of sloppy drafting.

      2. I have to agree with bea. I am a paralegal, and worked for an estate planning attorney a number of years ago. Go thru the lawyer so that all the “i”s are dotted and “t”s are crossed. Plus, you and Matt are both small business owners which may make for a more complicated will/estate planning process than the average Joe. This is a document that speaks for you after death and protects your assets for your kids. Personally, it’s not something that I would trust a website to produce for me.

        The sooner it’s done the better. It just puts your mind at ease and leaves nothing to question. My husband and I got ours done a few months after we got married (hubby is the military, so it was a big priority to us). Last year, my husband’s father died, leaving no will and not letting anyone know what his wishes were. To say things have been complicated is an understatement.

        For estate planning, investing, life insurance, my thought is it’s better to get these things done while you are young. Sadly, last year as well, a friend of mine became a widow at 31 years old. It’s awful to think about, but you just never know what can happen and it’s always best to be prepared.

  12. My husband and I met with a Financial Adviser last year who gave us this list of things to complete – and some! Thankfully, my husband’s job required the majority of these things and we already had them. We also had to draw up a power-of-attorney, allowing me to do business in his name while he works overseas. I am not sure if this would be beneficial to you guys or not, but you might look into it. Covered bases can’t hurt!

  13. Ugh, I’ve been procrastinating on the will/guardianship/life insurance thing for quite awhile. It would definitely be smart to do that before the baby arrives, because I just don’t feel like I can spare the time or the brain cells now!

  14. My husband and I also own our own small business and are expecting our first in just a few weeks. A will is so important even if you are married. In most states, even if you are the spouse, everything will need to go through the courts to ensure it makes it to you. A will ensures that the money, your house, etc. will all go to you right away! I know for me if my husband died the last thing I would want to do would be to navigate the judicial system to get something that is rightfully mine. Also with small businesses even if you are on all the paperwork, a will can help ensure that everything will also be passed on to you as the spouse expeditiously. Just a few things for thought:) And you’re right…I can’t believe the amount of paperwork and hard decisions that have to be made!

  15. I just want to echo the importance of wills, kids or no kids. You and your significant other or your family need to talk about your wishes. Do you want your organs donated? What do you want to happen to your remains? (Even things like DNR should be discussed.) Maybe it’s because my husband is military, but we have discussed this in great detail. Muy importante!*

  16. Along with the paperwork, remember you will need to fillout the forms (before you leave the hospital/birthing center) to get a birth certificate and social security card. All hospitals/centers are different, but generally the forms are filled out and sent in for you or just the social security form. A certified copy of the birth certificate can be picked up, for a small fee, at the county recorder’s office. The social security card takes forever to get back depending on your state. It took almost 10 weeks to get my daughter’s when we lived in NC, but only 4 with my oldest in MO.

  17. A will is so important, as well as those powers of attorney. It is never a good idea to rely on state law to get what you need. Plus, that is where you nominate guardians, although the court ultimately has to approve the guardian.

  18. Stressing the importance of saving for college immediately, since I work in the field:

    The average cost of a 4-year college education in 2012 is around $21k for a public school and around $42k for a private. FOR ONE YEAR. It’s only going to go up in the next 17 years of your kid’s life. In addition to that, average financial aid awards are decreasing, especially in the public sector. Higher ed budgets are often the first to be cut when states need to save money, which means less financial aid coming from public schools (private schools have funds set up to accrue money and give awards).

    That was a lot of info, but my point is… it’s only going to get more expensive. So save now. Throw $100 bucks in a savings account and add a little when you can. Make sure it has a good interest rate. If people send your kid cards with money in them? Put the money in that account (at least until your kid is old enough to want the $5 for candy or something :D). It’ll take years, and if you start now, the better off you’ll all be when the kid goes to college.

  19. I think you have all of the important ones taken care of! I’m glad you both are covered under a life insurance policy. So many people don’t do this and (in my opinion) it’s totally irresponsible if you have a family.

    You are going to be a great momma, Kath! 🙂

  20. Life insurance for the little guy is also a good idea, we did ours through Gerber, not. Nice thought but financially if some thing did its just one thing less to worry about. And it’s only a few dollars a month.

    1. I know this is a morbid topic, but I wanted to second the idea of the children’s life insurance. A few summers ago my sister-in-law’s husband and their two children were killed in an unfortunate auto accident. My SIL was and is still unable to move on from this tragedy, and the only consolation at this point is that she has some financial cushion to not have to work. The children’s grandparents had purchased the Gerber plans, and as horrible it was for us as a family to have to apply for the benefits after the children’s deaths (this was my role after the accident), it was a burden off of all of our chests to see that she had some additional income come in that would allow her to not have to go back to work right away as she needed to grieve and heal at her own pace. The policies are dirt cheap, and the chances are that you will never have to apply for the benefits. But if something horrible were to happen, it allows you some more time of financial freedom to grieve as you need without worrying about getting back to work right away.
      Their auto insurance also had a similar type of death benefit and provided funds to replace what had been their only car. I am not sure if this is standard with all policies (it seemed buried down in the fine print), but I cannot express how useful it was to have certain things taken care of by the policies for us in the weeks that followed.

  21. Kath, you are very fortunate to be part of a heterosexual union. I’m engaged to another woman and while we’re so excited to be getting married, it’s also overwhelming to think of all the extra paperwork we have to deal with just to have the same legal protections you do! I know also that when we do choose to have children we will have a lot of (very expensive) legalese to sift through during the process… count your blessings and be grateful for your much easier journey.

    And to all married/partnered couples – please consider making a will and purchasing life insurance! Those are incredibly important documents and you never know when they will be needed. Don’t delay!

    1. Congratulations, Lauren! I’ve always been a huge advocate of gay rights, for just this reason, and that belief was cemented even more firmly when a colleague and her wife had their first son three years ago. The hoops they had to jump through in order to adopt him jointly were ridiculous. One of the women had given birth to him, but she had to surrender his custody to the state before they could both adopt him together. Asking a post-partum mama to give up legal custody–even just for five minutes–is ridiculous and cruel.

      Best wishes to you, Lauren, and along with them my fondest deepest hope that someday this is all a moot point, because same-sex couples are granted the same rights as opposite-sex partners!

  22. Instead of a will, I suggest you set up a trust. That way, if something happens to you or Matt (god forbid), the property will transfer automatically and you’ll be able to avoid probate (which is costly and will take ages).

    This doesn’t apply specifically to having a baby, but while you’re thinking about wills and guardianship and such, you should also set up Advanced Healthcare Directives (or similar, not sure what it’s called in Virginia). It will outline your health care preferences in case you or Matt are seriously injured or ill.

  23. I cannot believe what a steal you are getting on health insurance! When my daughter was born it cost me $461 a month to add her to my employer’s Blue Cross of LA plan and get her dental insurance. Worth every penny though!

        1. Wow, that seems excessive – ours is $140 for our daughter including vision and dental. And that’s for Blue Crosd Blue Shield of MT. Out of curiosity, have you shopped for other plans (for your family or your child alone)?

          1. Mine went from $300 to $600 as well (I buy my own since I’m self-employed) when I added Lucy. It’s very comprehensive coverage, and believe it or not this was by far the cheapest we found for the level of care. You can find cheaper, but with high co-pays, deductibles, etc. California I think is more pricey than elsewhere…as with everything!

  24. We went tot he bank to start a college fund for our baby (due Sept 3) and were told our different options but she has to be born first since it will be in her name. She will not have access until the age of 25 with one and the other will be used for her college only. If she doesn’t go to college, those funds will be available to her at 25. We did decide that whichever route we go, we will not tell her about it and set up a separate savings account for her for birthday $, baptism $, etc.

  25. All of these topics and considerations….we told ourselves that when I got pregnant, we would handle and tackle them all, in the “what if” event. So far, we’ve crossed about half off the list. And that was 6 years ago. I know, I know. Need to just do some. You are smart for doing it NOW!

  26. My husband and I follow the Dave Ramsey program and he has a lot to say about sending your kids to college. If you look at his “baby steps” you will see that retirement accounts should definately come before college savings plans!


    We are starting (too late!) for our 3 boys…so we are funding ESA’s for each first, and then sticking some more money into a 529 that can be used by each of the kids if needed.

  27. My boyfriend and I frequently talk about how soon a college education may be obsolete. We both have doctorate degrees AND additional training so maybe it’s just a little too close too home. Tuition costs continue to rise and people think they need more and more advanced degrees-however, many people with advanced degrees can’t get jobs and are going back to manual labor type jobs. The cost of education is ridiculous and I think more kids are aware of this and getting creative. It would not surprise me if this is the trend for our kids’ generation. Not that it isn’t important to set up some kind of a college fund. I just think times are seriously changing.

  28. I think an important part of setting up your Will is to decide what you want done with all that money from your life insurance policy, bakery, house, savings, etc. Oftentimes I’ve heard of parents setting up a trust for all this money the child would inherit and then they can specify monthly care allowances and lump sums (say on turning 18 or 21) or for college, cars, and so on.

  29. Also don’t forget to add your baby as a beneficiary to your will and life insurance when he is born. Starting a 529 plan earlier will mean less/month each year, so the earlier the better.

    Another thing to think about is preschool. I know it is early now, but if you are planning to sign him up for mother’s day out or preschool, even one day a week, the sign ups are usually in January/February for the next September. So if you think you might want to do mother’s day out one day a week starting September of 2013 (when he will be about a year), you need to research the places now and be ready to apply early next year. I don’t know if that is something you are planning on at all, he may just stay with your or family, but some people don’t realize that you need some serious lead time to apply even for one or two days a week at a good place (at least in the city I live in).

    Another form you might want to create to have on hand is a medical consent form for your parents if they keep your baby for any extended period of time. Any time my husband and I leave our kids and go out of town, even for a day, we sign a form that states that our parents have authority to make medical decisions for our child if we are unavailable, filling in a blank for the dates that they have this authority. If something horrible happens and my parents are at the hospital with my kid and can’t get me on the phone, I don’t want life saving decisions to be held up because we aren’t there.

  30. This might sound terrible but we are not doing college savings plans for our kids. They are going to have to do well enough in school to get scholarships and grants. Motivation for them to do well in school, it was for me! My husband and I put ourselves through college with loans (well he went to the naval academy and i did scholarships and a little bit of loans). We want 4 or 5 kids so we will help if we can when the time comes, but they aren’t going to know that until then!

  31. We have what we call The Death Book. We keep three copies: one at our house, one at my parents’ (our guardians in the event of our deaths or incapacitations), and one with old family friends (not in our will). The Death Book includes: copies of insurance (medical, vehicle, homeowners, etc.), information related to our finances, signed copies of our will, identification records (social security records, driver’s license, medical records, allergy and vaccination records, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.), paperwork related to our mortgage, current photographs (we update these about once a year for Donald and me and about once a month for our daughter) that can be used for memorials, a brief explanation of our memorial wishes, property records (in the event of a fire, we update a video once a year to reflect assets in our home so that insurance goes smoother), records for financial accounts that we manage that belong to our nieces and nephews (we manage college funds instead of giving gifts for holidays and birthdays) and how they can be accessed, passwords for our computer and online stuff (updated about once a month), fingerprints, copies of our passports, etc.

    Pretty much, if something happens to us, we’ve made it as easy as possible to identify us, put us to rest, and pass our financial records and our daughter along into good care. We keep multiple copies so that we can verify that there is always one copy available. It was a huge undertaking, but the peace of mind is phenomenal.

    Paperwork is my worst nightmare.

    1. Wow, you are the most organized person I have ever met! Great work getting organized. I’ll have to start something like this too…

    2. Question: do you think it would be safe and efficient (and secure of the internet) to do a lot of this digitally via scanning and a document that is searchable?

      1. Hmmm. I don’t know, honestly. I would tend to believe that you can make anything secure if you plan it out well enough. When you think about it, all of the information that is in our Death Book is also available on our computers and online, it’s just a matter of piecing it together. It would probably be easier to maintain as a digital file than in a bunch of binders, anyway, our concern was just that if something happened to us a hard paper copy might be more credible than a printed digital file – but if you’re scanning things in, I would think it would be just as effective.

  32. Re: baby’s health coverage… Get all the forms necessary to add him to your policy and put them in your hospital bag. Yes, the baby’s delivery and routine associated costs are covered under you BUT if there is something wrong with the baby (sorry to mention it but necessary) he has to be listed as a covered insured for the claims to process correctly. If there are complications the last thing you need is to be arguing with the insurance company. If all goes smoothly (as we expect it will), no problem. But it is certainly better to be prepared. With the forms on hand you can always complete them and fax them to the insurance company ASAP.

    I worked in an Eligibility Unit of a major insurance company for 11 years and the WORST part of my job was having to explain this to a bewildered new parent of a sick baby. 🙁

  33. This is little compared to the big stuff but order two birth certificates. You will need them for so many things (sports, school, etc) that it is great to have two in case one gets lost.

      1. You should be able to do this at the hospital. I delivered my children at Martha Jefferson and there was a very nice lady that would call the room the next day and come around with copies for me to verify/sign before she sends them off.

      2. You can always order certified copies of a birth certificate (or death or marriage cert) from the town hall where the baby was born. They are usually about $5-$10. I have clients who need them in their 60’s and we just order a copy.

    1. I would like to add to Kellie’s comment. I was just out of college when my parents lost their house in a house fire. My sister and brother were both married by then so they both had their birth certificates with them and not in my parents’ house. I was not so lucky. So yes, get more than one copy of the birth certificate. You may be REALLY glad you did someday. 🙂

  34. Kath, My husband and I are expecting as well and after the baby comes, we are both going to be having to pay out of pocket for our health insurance because I will no longer be working. If you wouldn’t mind, what company and specific plan did you and Matt choose. If its not too much to reveal, about how much do you pay each month and what’s your deductible and do you feel the plan overall has you covered. There are so many options out there it is so confusing. Once you have the baby, will you cancel your maternity insurance until you want berf #2?! Any advice would be appreciated! Feel free to email me if that is more private for you.

    1. I guess it’s not too private 🙂

      We have Blue Cross, Blue Shield VA – aka Anthem.

      Our deductible is $2500 with 100% coverage after that. So having a baby (which is mostly in 2012 year calendar) will cost us $2500 out of pocket.

      We pay $350 per month including maternity. Luckily neither of us had any health issues to raise the premium (I’m still not sure how that works if you have continuous coverage…)

      I haven’t decided yet if I will cancel the maternity coverage…but I think I will since we want to wait a few years minimum.

      1. Check before you cancel the maternity coverage. If you developed a health condition after delivery you may not be able to get back on the maternity insurance, or if you did, the cost would be prohibitive.

        I can think of 2 bloggers (Julie at A Little Pregnant and Cecily at Uppercase Woman) who had no idea they had pre-eclampsia, but it affected both of their first pregnancies and Cecily lost her twin sons and Julie almost lost her son. They both had to have special monitoring for their second pregnancy. I hate to hang crepe (as you know medical people call that discussing the worst case scenario) but you Just.Never.Know.

        I had a hyst because of severe endometriosis which I didn’t know I had. They went in to remove one ovary and ended up taking it all out. Afterwards, I just could not snap back and I found out that I had MS that I didn’t know about. The stress of the surgery made it flare. Once I was just like you…healthy, young, married, in love, and expecting my first baby. Now I have two healthy children but I myself am permanently disabled

        I am a lawyer too and thanks to seeing so many unlucky people I had prepared for being unlucky myself. And it turned out to be a good thing. The huge disability policy I bought supported me for 2 years until I finally got Social Security disability.

  35. Definitely draw up your will and get term life insurance in place soon. What we did shortly in advance of our twins’ arrival was to go to uslegalforms.com and just get basic wills and living wills in place – we knew I was likely going to have a c-section (I did) and just wanted to make sure that stuff was in place at some level before I went in.

    Then, after we were home and settled in, we went to an estate planning attorney recommended by our financial planner and spend about $1000 to have a full estate plan drawn up. That took care of documenting all the details as to what happens when one or both of us die, to ensure the girls are taken care of, guardians appointed, living wills and burial plans documented, etc. Took about 2 hours of our time and is WORTH the piece of mind!

    We started Coverdell college savings accounts for both girls right away and max them out at the beginning of each year to make sure it gets done.

    We’re avid Dave Ramsey fans too — love him and his sane advice that fosters financial peace of mind!

  36. It’s a good idea to see an attorney knowledgable in estate planning. Despite the laws surrounding inheritance, you want your heirs to avoid probate. A solid estate plan is important.

  37. Im not sure if this is typical but one place we ran into a decent amount of paperwork was the pediatrician. Once you select one I recommend getting everything you can done ahead of time since your baby’s first appointment will likely be your first or second day home from the hospital and filling out paperwork is the last thing you want to do. My little one arrived a month early and luckily I completed the forms the day before she was born and had them ready to send to the pediatrician I never thought we’d deliver them in person at our appointment four days later!

  38. Birth certificate — I assume you go to your City or Town Clerk, or possibly the County Clerk. You could call Charlottesville City Hall & they could point you in the right direction.

    I have always liked Suze Orman & always learn something from her show. She talks about it all — education financing, wills, trusts, insurance, mortgages, what to look for in a financial advisor, etc. My money is managed by a very sophisticated & knowledgeable CFA & he thinks her advice is sound. Some don’t like her persona, but I get a kick out of her, and I think she really tells it like it is with no baloney.

  39. Ordering birth certificates is something you probably will do as part of your discharge stuff on the day you go home from the hospital. And, yes, order multiple copies! Much easier to do it that day then have to go back and do it later. And speaking of paperwork, I feel like the worst is everything you have to sign off on to get discharged. We live in WI and that has been my experience in our hospital. The nurses are usually really good about reminding you what you need to do and you’ll probably have a folder or a binder or something but I always feel like I spend most of my time in the hospital post-partem figuring out what I need to fill-out, sign for babe and me to get out of there!

  40. Here is a huge, huge, HUGE, HUGE thing. Our estate is worth over 1/2 of a million dollars with life insurance, paid for house, paid for 4 cars, some money I inherited, 401K, IRA, etc.

    Do you want your 18 year old child or children to get this money the day they turn 18, or 19, or 21 (depending on the age your state sets for them “reaching their majority”) No you certainly do not!!!

    Our will states that if we both die before they reach adulthood our money will be placed in the hands of our children’s’ uncle who will be the trustee of the estate. He is free to use the money in the children’s best interest for food, clothes, tuition, car.

    BUT our children do not get the money outright until they are old enough to manage it, or at least we hope. 1/3 at age 25, 1/3 at age 30, and 1/3 at age 35. Then the trust is disbanded.

  41. I apologize for being so wordy but I forgot to add that for many years people have not had to pay inheritance taxes on estates unless they were multi-zillionaires BUT at the end of this year, the laws MAY change to where many “normal” people have to pay a huge chunk of their money to the feds and/or state when they inherit. You think oh we don’t have that much but you never know how much you will have in your estate. People who were living on minimum wage received huge settlements after 9/11, throwing their heirs into a completely different tax bracket.

    So—be sure to ask an ESTATE LAWYER about the upcoming changes. My guess is that the changes won’t go through, because all the members of Congress are so rich it would affect them and they’ll figure out a way to quietly continue to avoid estate taxes on large estates, but you just never know.

    This kind of stuff you cannot get from Legal Zoom or for $19.95 plus tax on a dubious website.

    You hired a doctor to monitor your pregnancy and make sure you and the baby are healthy….Hire a lawyer to make sure that the baby is protected as much as possible financially!!!

  42. In Virginia (I believe) your items will go to the state if you do not have a will in place–like if you and your spouse die. So you do need a will. And you do have 30 days to add your child to your health insurance policy. But it has to be done within 30 days.

  43. Kath –

    I am delurking because you are absolutely right in your instinct to draft a will. While most states do have inheritance laws as you described it makes things so much easier if you have a will stating your wishes, rather than allowing intestate laws to direct your estate. It is particularily important because you are business owners. Also do you want him to have control of his $ at the age of majority or perhaps leave it in trust until his education is complete(obviously allowing the trust to pay for the education). Who do you want to manage the trust. Find a good family law attorney and sit down with them. It is worth the time and investment and your instincts are correct and thankfully it will most likely never come into play but you will know he is covered.

  44. So not fun, but so very important. I haven’t read through other comments, but I’m sure you’ve gotten some great advice. We combined our will with guardianship – ugh, I hated even talking about it, but again, something that needed to be done. One of our friends sells insurance, and he helped us pick out the right plan so that I would still be able to stay at home with the kids if something happened to my husband. And go ahead and get that college fund started. Compounding interest adds up quickly! 🙂 Oh, and yes, 30 days to get the bambino added to your insurance.

    Way to stay on top of things Kath. I know a lot of parents probably don’t even think about this stuff. But again, so important.

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