If you’re an expectant parent, you probably already know that you have a lot to do before the baby is born, like buy and install a car seat, find a pediatrician, and take birthing classes. But have you thought about the personal finance-related things you should do before your baby is born? If not, here’s a handy checklist to work through before your bundle of joy arrives:
Find out what your employer’s parental leave policies are. There is minimal federal law providing for parental leave in the U.S., state law varies greatly, and individual employers all have their own leave policies. So it’s up to you to figure out exactly how much time you can take off. If you are dissatisfied with your employer’s policy, or your employer’s policy seems unconscionably restrictive, you might want to check out your state’s laws to ensure you’re getting at least the minimum time off.
Have a plan for paying the delivery bill. Giving birth is not cheap, especially if things do not according to plan. Work with your obstetrician and insurance company to figure out how much you’ll owe out of pocket, and have a plan to pay those expenses when they are due.
Find out how to add your baby to your health insurance plan. The insurance company will know that you have a baby, because they’ll get the bill from the hospital. But to have your child covered by your family’s health insurance policy, you’ll have to fill out some paperwork. If your policy is through your employer, check with your human resources office. Otherwise, call the insurance company and find out what steps you’ll need to take once the baby is born. Be sure to note any deadlines for adding your baby to your policy, and get the paperwork in before that deadline.
Find out how much of your baby’s doctor’s visits will be covered. Did you know that newborns see their doctors a lot? Many health insurance plans do not require a copay for these well-care visits, but you’ll want to know ahead of time how much you’ll have to pay. This may even be a factor in selecting a pediatrician for your child.
Get your baby a Social Security Number. If you plan on opening any financial accounts in your child’s name, he or she will need their own Social Security Number. If you give birth at a reputable hospital, they should be able to take care of the paperwork for you when you give the information for your baby’s birth certificate. But if you give birth elsewhere, you may need to handle all of the paperwork on your own. The Social Security Administration has the info you need.
Check your life insurance policies. If your death or the death of your spouse would cause a financial hardship, you need life insurance. It is very difficult to calculate how much life insurance you need, but there are many online calculators out there that can help you come up with a ballpark figure. Since childcare is so expensive, you should verify the amount of any life insurance policies you have, and be prepared to increase the amount after your child is born if it seems necessary.
Revise your will. State law most likely provides for your assets to be inherited by your child, even if you don’t revise your will after his or her birth. However, you and your partner should definitely revise your will so that you can state who your child’s guardians should be in the event of your demise. Without a revised will indicating your preference, a state court would have to use its own judgment in appointing a guardian for your child, and it could choose someone you wouldn’t approve of.
Taking care of as many of these tasks as possible before the birth will allow you to focus on your new baby after he or she is born. As cliche as it sounds, those early months and years really do fly by!