Estate planning essentials for single parents

Aug 12, 2023 | Education

Life as a single parent is undoubtedly hectic, juggling work, school activities and household responsibilities. Amidst this chaos, the responsibility of ensuring your children’s well-being and future is solely on your shoulders, whether you share parenting time with a partner or not.

It’s essential to consider what would happen to your children if something were to happen to you. Who would care for them? How would their needs be met? To provide security and peace of mind, estate planning becomes crucial for single parents.

  1. Will: Drafting a will is a fundamental step in estate planning. It allows you to designate a person responsible for handling your estate and assets and deciding who will inherit them. Most importantly, a will empowers you to appoint a guardian for your children. Without a will, the fate of your children may be left to the discretion of the state, potentially placing them in the care of strangers.
  2. Revocable Living Trust: A living trust offers numerous advantages for single parents. It enables you to retain control over your assets while you’re alive and capable. However, in the event of your incapacitation or death, decision-making authority passes to the trustee you have chosen. This trustee should be someone you trust to manage your assets and ensure your children’s welfare. If your children are still minors or young adults, their inheritance can be managed by the trustee until they become capable of handling it themselves. Additionally, having a trust helps bypass probate, which can be costly and time-consuming, preserving your hard-earned money for the benefit of your children.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney: As a single parent, you likely hold sole signatory authority over financial matters such as mortgages and bank accounts. In the event of your incapacity, it’s essential to have a durable power of attorney in place. This legal document empowers someone you trust to manage your financial affairs and make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.
  4. Advance Medical Directive: An advance medical directive grants legal authority to the person you designate to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself. This becomes especially important if you are not remarried or lack immediate family members nearby to make these decisions.
  5. Beneficiary Forms: Ensure you complete beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. These designations dictate who will receive the assets from these accounts upon your passing. Remember not to name minor children as beneficiaries since they cannot legally own assets. Consult with an attorney to explore strategies for leaving these assets to your children without involving the court.

By proactively addressing these estate planning must-haves, single parents can rest assured that their children will be well cared for and provided for if unforeseen circumstances arise. Taking the time to create a comprehensive estate plan demonstrates your commitment to your children’s future and well-being, offering you peace of mind during the busy journey of single parenthood.

This article is provided by your local estate planning attorney, Corina Colan.

The Law Office of Corina I. Colan| (909) 265-3315 |  [email protected] | www.colanlegal.comTop of Form



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