A: Simply adding a new child to your will is not sufficient. You must also add them to your life insurance policy as well as any retirement or other accounts.  Typically, you’ll specify what percentage of the account value will go to whom.  Often, you can choose both primary beneficiaries and secondary beneficiaries (who’d receive the account value if the primary beneficiary predeceases you). It’s typically not recommended to list a minor as a beneficiary, but you can discuss that with an estate planning attorney.

Keep in mind:

  • Minors cannot receive insurance policy proceeds directly. Consider appointing a trustee (can be a person or institution) and naming your child’s trust as the beneficiary.
  • Pay careful attention to what a windfall might mean for special needs beneficiaries already receiving government benefits.  Perhaps you can consider a Special Needs or Supplement Needs Trust instead, but always seek proper advisement in this area to address your unique situation.
  • At a minimum, you should have a guardian identified in your estate planning documents to oversee financial affairs for your minor children.  If you don’t, the courts will appoint someone, and it may not be who you would necessarily choose.  Not to mention, it has the possibility to be expensive, potentially depleting the assets left for the minor.