New Parent Paperwork

How to get your baby's financial and legal life organized

Babies may not come with instruction manuals, but they sure require a lot of paperwork. Before you start to glaze over—as in, who the heck has time to deal with paperwork when they have a newborn?—hear us out: Carving out a teeny bit of time to focus on this boring (and yes, sometimes grim) stuff will give you instant peace of mind. You'll know that no matter how crazy everything else gets, at least this one part of your new life is totally under control. Here's what you need:

  • Birth certificate and social security number. These forms are pretty straightforward and they're usually provided for you by the hospital or birth center. Because they require the same info, some hospitals may even combine them. If you're having a home birth, your midwife will likely have copies of the forms for you.
  • Acknowledgment of Paternity. If you're a single mom or not married to your child's father, an AOP is required in order to include him on the birth certificate. If you'll be seeking child support, you'll definitely want this.
  • Health insurance card. You usually have 30 days to add a child to your health plan, but it's best if you can make that call to your benefits department within the first few days. If you don't have insurance, there are many state and federal programs that provide low- or no-cost coverage for children—and sometimes their parents, too. To find out what options are available, call Insure Kids Now at 877-KIDS-NOW or visit Insurekidsnow.gov.
  • Life insurance. Ok, no one wants to think about the worst at one of the happiest times of her life, but once you have a child, it's crucial to make sure your family will be supported should the unexpected happen. To learn more about what different plans offer and how much coverage you might need, check out LifeHappens.org.
  • A will. Again, not fun to think about. But again, critical. A will allows you to decide who will care for your child if something should happen to you. Without it, that call will be made by a judge. You can have one prepared by a lawyer, but it's not necessary. There are software programs that can help you like Quicken WillMaker Plus 2011 (about $40) as well as websites such as LegacyWriter.com and LegalZoom.com (prices range from about $20 to $70).

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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