Single parenthood places extra demands on your time and attention. It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day necessities that you forget to look ahead, but estate planning for single parents is essential. This is especially true in cases where there isn’t a shared custody agreement. Estate planning ensures your children are cared for, no matter what happens.
Revise Your Estate Plan
If you’ve recently become a single parent, it’s time to review and revise your current estate plan. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s a similar process to preparing for families with both parents, although there are special considerations.
- Naming a guardian for minors. If your minor children don’t have a second parent with legal rights, your estate plan must first specify a guardian to take custody of them.
- Establishing a trust. A trust is a legal arrangement where a parent can outline instructions to be carried out in his or her absence. Because minors cannot directly inherit property, it is advisable to establish a trust that outlines how funds are to be used. Without an estate plan, your assets could be tied up in probate until the courts assign a guardian to oversee them. It’s best to think ahead so your children have immediate financial support, and you’re able to determine when funds are distributed. A trust can also specify more abstract things, like who may advise your children on important life decisions.
- Do you need a living will? A living will is a written statement that details a person’s wishes regarding their medical treatment in the event they’re incapacitated or no longer able to communicate consent. As a single parent, it’s important to designate someone to advocate medical choices on your behalf, should the need ever arise.
Estate planning for single parents can be more complicated. There are other things to consider, such as creating a durable power of attorney, whether or not you’re adequately insured, or what happens if you remarry and your new spouse has children of their own. A law firm can walk you through scenarios, and help facilitate the legal process. At Lewman Law, we would be pleased to support you in reviewing your existing estate plan, or drafting one for the first time.