Estate Planning Essentials for Single Parents
Real TuckerAllen client Jamie shares how her TuckerAllen attorney addressed her unique concerns as a single mother and helped her take care of her daughter with a TuckerAllen trust package.
Jan 24, 2017
Estate planning is important for all parents but is essential if you are a single parent, because the children do not have a second parent to rely on. Estate planning will ensure that your children are cared for and provided for in the event of your death or incapacity.
First, you need to name a guardian for your children. If your child’s other parent survives you, he or she may have legal rights to raise and care for your child. Otherwise, a court will appoint a guardian, and that court-appointed guardian might or might not be the person you would have chosen to raise your kids. By nominating a guardian for your children in your will, you are selecting the person who would raise your children if anything happened to you.
Second, you want to be certain that your children would be provided for financially. Minors cannot inherit property directly. If you have not set up an appropriate estate plan, your assets could be tied up in probate and, when those assets are available to your children, a court will appoint a guardian to oversee your assets. Having to rely on a court-appointed guardian to get your property distributed or expenditures approved is both cumbersome and expensive. Planning now can ensure that, if something happened, your children would be taken care of financially. By setting up a trust for the benefit of your children, you ensure that your assets are not tied up in probate, but would be immediately available to support your children. Further, placing your assets in a trust for your children allows you to choose a person you know and can count on to manage those assets for your children if you are gone.
As part of creating an estate plan, an estate planning attorney can also help you name beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement accounts. You will want to make sure that you have named beneficiaries in a way that benefits your children, but also works with your overall estate plan. Likely, you will want to name your trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance and retirement accounts. Again, doing so ensures that your children have immediate access to those funds and that your chosen person is managing those funds for the benefit of your children.
Finally, creating a durable power of attorney for property is an important part of your estate plan as a single parent. If you were to become disabled or incapacitated, a durable power of attorney can avoid severe disruption to your children’s lives. In choosing an agent to help manage your affairs, you choose a person who can help keep everything in order if you are suddenly unable to do so yourself. In other words, a power of attorney for property ensures that your kids’ lives can continue as normally as possible given the circumstances, with bills paid and access to funds to buy necessities.
As a single parent, you have a basic parental instinct to protect your children. Though the thought of not being around to raise your children is unpleasant, facing the issue and creating an appropriate estate plan will give you peace of mind, knowing that your children will be cared for if you were gone.
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