Older parents, younger children
Next, make sure you've got a clear estate plan in place. This means a will that stipulates guardians for your children and how your assets are to be distributed if something happens to you.
Because your children may be too young to take over your assets directly, you should consider setting up a trust in their name. Be sure to designate a responsible person—which may be a different person than their guardian—to oversee the trust until they come of age.
If you can't take care of your kids because of an illness or accident, you'll need to identify the person who can serve as their guardian.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with having children later in life is saving money for two big goals—their college and your retirement—at the same time.
There are no universally applicable guidelines. In general, you should make your retirement savings the number-one priority. Remember, you can borrow for college, but not for retirement.
One college savings option is a 529 plan, which lets you save for a family member's education. Any earnings can grow tax-free, while many states also let residents deduct their contributions against income, giving them a break on their state tax bill.
It's worth noting that this need not be an either/or decision—many parents opt to max out their retirement contribution first, and then save whatever else they can through a 529 college savings plan.
The big picture
With deliberate planning, clear priorities, and some help from TIAA, you can take care of your children financially while making sure you have a sound plan to take care of yourself and your spouse.
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Life insurance is issued by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, New York, NY. Each of the foregoing is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.
Investments in a state 529 college savings plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is risk of investment loss. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., manages several state 529 college savings plans. Before investing, check your state's website for information about favorable state tax benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s plan.
Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in a state 529 college savings plan. Read the Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information carefully. Investments in a state 529 college savings plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is risk of investment loss.