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Estate Planning for Single Parents

Estate Planning for Single Parents - overwhelmed

If you are a single parent, life for you right now probably could not get any busier. You are likely being pulled between work, school activities, and home — and the inevitable emergencies that fill the lives of single parents everywhere.

Being a single parent is a huge responsibility, even if you do share time with a parenting partner, and especially so if you do not. Regardless, as a single parent, your children’s lives are now largely in your hands.

So, what would happen to them if something happened to you?

Who would take care of them?

Who would pay for their housing and food?

Who would pay for their education?

These are questions you need to get answered, and the best way to do that is through estate planning.

Having an estate plan that covers the care of your children in case you should be in a severe accident, fall ill, or die welcomes peace of mind for the single parent. When estate planning for single parents, here are the must-have documents that can protect your children if something were to ever happen to you:

Last Will & Testament

A last will & testament (“will”) lets you name the person responsible for your estate and belongings as well as who will inherit your assets. Most importantly, this is a legal vehicle you can use to name a guardian for your children should you pass away.  Without a will, or other necessary guardianship documents in place, the state will decide your children’s fate. The greatest risk you leave behind when ignoring this piece of your estate plan is that your children could be taken into the care of strangers at any time.

Revocable Living Trust

There are so many benefits of using a living trust when estate planning for single parents. First, a trust enables you to still control your money and property while you are alive and able, but if you die or become incapacitated, it transitions that decision-making authority immediately to the person you have named as your trustee. If your children are still minors or even young adults, their inheritance can be handled for them until the time comes when they are capable. Importantly, you get to decide when that time is when you create your trust.  Plus, if you have a properly funded trust, your estate does not have to go through probate, which can be costly and time-consuming. Without a trust, you risk draining your hard-earned money on probate costs. This is not ideal if your children need to continue living in their homes and having their expenses paid.

Durable Power of Attorney

As a single parent, you are likely the only signatory on your mortgage, your bank accounts, and other financial instruments. What would happen if you became incapacitated and there was no one to pay the mortgage or the bills? That is why it is important to have a durable power of attorney in place. When choosing your power of attorney, it should be someone you trust managing your financial affairs, while also making legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Advance Medical Directives

Advanced medical directives give the person(s) you choose the legal power to make your health care decisions in case you are not capable of doing so yourself. Otherwise, your health care decisions will be made according to hospital policy. This is especially important if you are not remarried or do not have immediate family members nearby.

Beneficiary Forms

Your life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and brokerage accounts all require beneficiary designations. Those you designate to receive the assets in these accounts will only receive them if you execute the proper beneficiary forms! They cannot pass to your heirs via a will or trust. Additionally, minor children should never be named as beneficiaries as they are not legally able to own assets. Talk with us today about strategies to leave these assets to your children without court intervention.

For the Kids Plan®

Our For the Kids Plan® provides single parents with the legal planning tools they need to make sure there is never a question about who will take care of their kids if you they are in an accident, . The kit includes legal documents to name short- and long-term guardians, instructions for those guardians, medical powers of attorney for your minor children, and more.

Work with us.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to provide peace of mind to families like yours through thoughtful, dedicated, and personalized estate planning.  This includes estate planning for single parents!

Call our office or follow this link to schedule your free 30-minute initial consultation with us, so we can discuss how to protect what matters most to you.  

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Being a single parent is a huge responsibility, even if you do share time with a parenting partner, and especially so if you do not. Regardless, as a single parent, your children’s lives are now largely in your hands. So, what would happen to them if something happened to you?
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