2. Will (Trust if Homeowner)
A will can be used to direct your assets to your chosen beneficiaries at death, like your car to your brother. But a will means much more than just distributing tangible property, especially if you have kids. It is the vehicle used to document who you choose care for your minor children if you die. I recommend addressing both short and long term guardianship in your will. See Babycenter's article on How to Choose a Guardian For Your Child.
When do you need something more robust than a will, like creating a living trust? My line is when you own a home. Why? To avoid probate, the court proceedings through which your assets are distributed according to your wishes by an executor. Probate can be lengthy and expensive, as well as being a public process.
Should you craft your last will online without a lawyer? Weigh these issues first, like are you comfortable knowing you could be missing something? Although online resources, like Nolo, have will software, I recommend hiring an estate attorney to draft your will and trust documents.
3. Incapacity Planning Documents
The advance health care directives, also called living wills, give power to a person you designate to make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated. Planning ahead helps you receive the care you want. Mayo Clinic provides an in-depth guide and Huffington Post addresses the question "I’m Young And Healthy: Why Do I Need An Advance Health Care Directive?". It makes sense to put this in place while your mind is on the first two items: insurance and wills.
4. 529 Plan (College Funding)
We recommend opening a 529 plan with your financial advisor (ask us if you need a referral). This provides a tax free way to pay for qualified education expenses. The best part is, you can change the beneficiary of the plan. That means, if your first child isn't college-bound, it can be switched to your second child with NASA physicist aspirations.
Want to learn more? Check out What is a 529 Plan? And although your advisor can help you make investment choices, take a glance at CalCPA's quick 529 Plans Do's and Don'ts.
5. Show Your Pride
Pick up a "Our Little Tax Deduction" onesie! I know it will make them very Hoppe :)
CPA + Partner at Why Blu