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Kelsey Paine

6 Important Things to Do as Soon as Baby Arrives

Giving birth is just the beginning. Read on for the definitive post-baby checklist to benefit both you and your newborn.

It’s no secret that pregnancy comes with a long to-do list. There are the obvious tasks (setting up a nursery and babyproofing your home), and the less so (applying for baby’s social security card and adding him to your insurance plan). You’ll also be faced with a host of legal and financial decisions, like writing or revising your will. For those issues, it helps to get a legal protection plan—like one from ARAG®—where for a small monthly fee, you can get advice from a network of attorneys and have access to self-service legal docs—all in the name of helping you take care of business so you can better take care of baby. Here, six things you should think about now so you don’t have to stress about them later.

1. Apply for Baby’s Social Security Number

Baby will need a social security number for tax purposes, health insurance, a future bank account, government benefits and more. The simplest way to get one is by completing a birth registration form at the hospital (most keep the form on hand) and you’ll receive the card in the mail. If you’re giving birth at home, visit your local Social Security Administration office and request a number in person. You’ll fill out a form and provide proof of identity along with two documents showing baby's age, sex and citizenship status, such as her birth certificate and hospital birth record. You should receive a social security card in six to 12 weeks.

2. Write or Update Your Will

You just brought a beautiful new life into the world and the last thing you want to think about is something bad happening—ever. But it’s always better to be prepared, especially for events that have life-changing consequences. Estate planning ensures your loved ones are provided for and taken care of according to your wishes. If you haven’t created a will yet, start by taking inventory of your assets, including real estate, investments, retirement savings, insurance policies and business interests. Wills can be complex to draft on your own and could be subject to complicated rules and laws depending on your state. This is where having lawyers available through a legal insurance plan is particularly helpful; they can guide you through the process of creating a simple will and also help decide if you want to designate an executor or power of attorney if you become sick or incapacitated. (Download ARAG’s free Estate Planning Guidebook for more helpful tips.) You should also discuss the possibility of guardianship, including who you want to manage the assets inherited by baby. It’s not uncommon to name one person as baby’s personal guardian and another person as financial guardian. Talk to your ARAG attorney about your options and whether you should set up a living trust.

3. Find Out About Tax Breaks

You already know baby will bring you unimaginable joy, but that doesn’t make it any easier to handle all the additional costs that come with caring for him. Fortunately, the federal government provides parents with a tax bonus; you just have to do your due diligence when it comes to choosing the one that works for you. When you add a new child to your family, you can claim a dependent exemption, meaning you get an extra deduction every year until baby turns 19. You may also be eligible for a tax credit, which reduces your taxes dollar for dollar. Two common ones are the child tax credit, which is worth up to $1,000 per child, and the child and dependent care credit, which, depending on your income, reimburses you for up to 35 percent of the first $3,000 you pay in day care expenses. This credit percentage decreases in increments as your salary range goes up. You might also want to revise your W-4 form with your employer to include your dependent.

4. Buy Life Insurance

The coverage you need differs per person, but younger parents can obtain a significant amount of life insurance term coverage for a relatively low cost, providing quick cash for your children if anything happens. Even if your employer offers coverage, buy an outside policy so you can take it with you if you leave your job.

5. Choose a Health Plan

You generally have about 30 days to add baby to your health plan after birth—right when the hospital bills start rolling in—so start thinking now about the best way to get baby covered. Find out the answers to important questions, like which parent’s plan will be the most cost-effective and comprehensive, and whether the policy fully covers first-year pediatrician visits. Decide what makes the most sense for your family so you’ll have the best possible coverage, both for preventative care and if baby gets sick or hurt.

6. Take Time for You and Your Partner

As a new parent, you’re bound to spend almost every waking (and sleeping!) moment thinking about baby, but it’s still important to invest in some quality alone time with your partner. Try to designate at least one date night a month so the two of you can reconnect away from the stresses of new parenthood. After all, maintaining a strong partnership isn’t only beneficial for you, but for baby too.

The Bump and ARAG present Adulting 101, a sponsored series full of practical advice for tricky parenting topics, from writing a will to choosing a guardian. Visit ARAGlegal.com/thebump to download a free organizer to keep track of all the legal and financial documents parents need.