Becoming a parent is a life-altering event — in the best possible way. Raising a tiny human can be a deeply enriching experience. Think: first smiles, first steps, first words. But it's also a lot of work. And we're not just talking about the diaper changes and sleepless nights. As a new parent, it's also your responsibility to invest in your child's future. That means thinking about financial instruments like life insurance and RESPs.
Fortunately, help is available. Through Lawyers Financial, a not-for-profit that serves the legal community, you can access comprehensive financial planning for free. Here's a rundown of how an advisor can steer you through the fiscal maze of new parenthood.
Building a budget
"If you want to become a parent, start planning before it happens," says Karen Sill, the manager of financial planning at Lawyers Financial and a 16-year veteran of the industry. The ideal time to start is before that sprog is two lines on a pregnancy test or you've printed the adoption papers.
A financial advisor can design a budget and an investment strategy with your unique goals in mind. Let's say, for instance, that you want to save enough cash to afford an extended parental leave without missing a student-debt payment. "We can develop a plan," says Sill, "for any scenario."
Wills and estate planning
"Creating a will is a must," says Sill. "But another thing that new parents should consider is setting up a trust for their child and designating a trustee to manage it." If parents pass away without a will, their children will receive whatever's left in the estate when they reach the age of majority. By putting a trust in place, parents can control how the funds are dispersed, which could be particularly important if their children are minors.
Ultimately, a lawyer will draft these documents. But financial advisors can offer guidance on how a will or trust can safeguard the financial health of your family.
Most group health plans offer some life insurance, but, typically, it isn't enough to truly cushion the financial blow of a sudden death. As a result, lawyers should supplement their group benefits with a personal life-insurance policy. Another good idea is to buy critical illness insurance, which pays a lump sum in the event of a serious medical event like a heart attack, stroke or cancer diagnosis. "An advisor can walk you through all the options, making the process simple," says Sill. "At Lawyers Financial, we offer a full slate of insurance products at some of the lowest rates in the industry."
Investing in education
As soon as your kid has a social insurance number, open an RESP. If you make regular contributions to this account, you could receive up to $7,200 in free money from the government toward your child's post-secondary education. The balance also grows tax free until your child takes it out to pay for school. It's a no-brainer.
What can be difficult, however, is deciding how to invest the money you deposit in the account. Should you opt for a blue-chip mutual fund? Are you better off buying and selling individual stocks? "Before making a decision, speak to an advisor," says Sill, "who can help you select the best option based on your financial knowledge and risk comfort."
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.