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dad legal guide

The Dad’s Guide to Legal Documents

Being a parent is challenging. There is a lot of work—and often, worries—involved. In honor of Father’s Day, we’ve created a list of legal documents that every dad should have to help them care for their loved ones, even if they are away.


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Legal documents for all dads

Every parent worries about how their children will be cared for in unexpected circumstances. These documents help you to manage your assets and plan how your children will be cared for if you are away or otherwise unable.

Last Will and Testament – As a parent, you might be terrified of the unthinkable situation where both the child’s parents perish in an accident. Having guardians listed in your Will can help to ensure that your children get the best care.

Power of Attorney – A Power of Attorney grants a designated person the ability to manage your finances when you are unable to do so, like if you are out of the country or undergoing long-term medical treatment.

Trust – Trusts are pretty flexible. They have the advantage of making funds and assets available more quickly than Wills, meaning the assets included in the trust could be distributed upon your death or if you become disabled. While a Will can cover all property you own, in a Trust, you must specifically note what property you’re including. Unlike a Will, a Trust does not allow you to name a guardian for your children.

Childcare Authorization – In a pinch? Use a Childcare Authorization if you need to allow someone to temporarily care for or make decisions about your child, such as allowing a relative or babysitter to pick up your child from school. A notary’s signature is optional, but it may be required by the school or other impacted organizations.

Documents for dads-to-be

Preparing for a new baby can be both exciting and overwhelming for parents-to-be. Here are few documents to help you prepare for the birth and manage other changes.

Birth Plan – As you look forward to your little one’s arrival, a Birth Plan can help parents prepare for the big day. The person giving birth usually writes the Birth Plan, though it can also be made with help from a partner. This document outlines childbirth and postpartum preferences and can be a helpful guide for expectant dads and the rest of the birth team. Learn more about making a birth plan.

Bill of Sale – Need more trunk space for a baby stroller? If you are selling a used car, you can make a Car Bill of Sale to protect yourself and create proof of the transaction. In many cases, the buyer of your car will need this document in order to transfer the title. A Bill of Sale can also be used when selling furniture (for example, if you are converting a room into a nursery) or when buying secondhand baby items from other parents with older children.

Documents for single or divorced dads

Single parents often are solo parenting and can benefit from a little extra help. The first document helps parents outline how they want their children cared for, even if they are not together. The second two documents allow you to appoint certain rights to caregivers.

Parenting Plan – A Parenting Plan is a good idea for any co-parenting couple. Many conflicts can potentially be avoided between parents who do not live together if decisions such as visitation, medical care, daily care, schooling and financial contributions are agreed upon together. If you have children who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, you may wish to include an addendum for pandemic-related parenting decisions.

Power of Attorney for a Child – With a Power of Attorney for a Child, you can give someone you trust the ability to make decisions when you are not there to take care of your children. This document helps ensure that your children get the care they need, no matter what happens. It can also allow a trusted person to pick up your child from daycare or make medical decisions. Notarization is generally required.

Nanny Agreement – If you have opted out of putting your children in daycare to have a full-time nanny instead, a Nanny Agreement will allow you to communicate your wishes in terms of care and employment expectations. It can also protect you in the case of a disagreement.

Documents for grandpas

Even though you are family, you most likely cannot consent to medical treatment for your grandchildren if something happens to them while in your care. These documents allow a parent to give you temporary consent to allow medical treatment and to travel with your grandkids.

Consent for Medical Treatment – Consent for Medical Treatment can be used to authorize a grandparent to seek medical attention on behalf of their grandchild should anything happen while under their supervision.

Travel Consent Form – Having a Travel Consent Form can allow grandchildren to travel with their grandparents domestically or internationally.

And let’s not forget the pet dads

Not all children come in human form, some dads are pet dads. Just like you can for the human variety, you can make documents to provide for your pets’ care and fund their care if you are not there to do it yourself.

Pet Trust – Taking care of a pet is rewarding, but it can also be expensive. Having a Pet Trust in place can help you fund the costs of pet care for the person you’re designating as the caretaker of your pet should you pass.

Pet Care Contract – A Pet Care Contract clearly defines the duties of pet caretaker and explains what should happen if your pet gets injured or sick.

Being a parent requires a lot of responsibility. These documents can help you be the best dad possible even if you are not there to provide the care yourself. If you need assistance with your estate planning, you can ask a lawyer for one-on-one support.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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