If there is a new baby in the house, life changes dramatically for everyone. Your brand-new daughter or son becomes the most important person in the world, and your protective instincts are on full alert.

This is the perfect time to discuss your last will and testament with an estate planning attorney. Creating a will is one sure way to take care of your family if you are no longer here.

A look at the basics

A will contains your wishes for the distribution of assets following your death. In addition to your bank accounts and personal possessions, assets could include such items as your home, car, rowing machine and dune buggy. When drawing up your will, you should think carefully about the person you name as executor. He or she should be about your age or younger so as not to predecease you. Your executor should possess common sense, be willing to serve and be able to carry out your wishes.

Going through probate

Your will does not avoid probate. Rather, you must file this document with the court so a judge can confirm its validity. The court will also grant authority to the person you appoint as executor to administer your estate and carry out your last wishes. If you die intestate, or without a will, the court will determine the distribution of your assets. Keep in mind that a will does not control any accounts you have with beneficiary designations, such as a life insurance policy, a retirement account or a transfer on death (TOD) account. Named beneficiaries will inherit the proceeds from such accounts directly; these assets will not have to go through probate.

Other useful tools

As the events in your life change—the birth of another child, for example—you should revisit your will and update it appropriately. Those changes may also signal a need for other estate planning tools, such as a living trust or a medical power of attorney. For the moment, however, your decision to create a will is an excellent way to protect your family, especially that brand-new baby.