Estate Planning as a Single Parent

When you are a single parent, your children depend on you for everything from their food and shelter to paying for their extracurricular and medical expenses.   Additionally, you serve as a primary source of love and emotional stability for your children.  While meeting their day-to-day physical and emotional needs is imperative, it is equally important that you prepare for the possibility of something happening to you.  Fortunately, there are ways you can put measures in place which will help ensure your children have what they need should you not be able to care for them.  Here are some ideas about developing your estate plan as a single parent. 

Nominating a Guardian

The guardian is the person who is legally permitted to act as a parent for a child. If your children’s other parent has legal rights to them, he or she will become their sole guardian if you pass away.  However, if the other parent is not in the picture, the court will look to your estate plan such as a will or trust to consider who should be your children’sguardian .  Further, if the other parentwere to die their and your guardianship nominations would be the primaryguidance the court could use in identifying someone to care for your kids.  If you do not provide a name in this manner ,a family court will have to choose for your children.

Naming a Conservator

While a guardian can make decisions regarding your children’s care and where they live, this role does not extend to managing their financial interest. A conservator is a person who will be responsible for managing and safeguarding your children’s assets and money.  While the conservator and guardian can be the same person, this role can also be filled by someone other than the guardian.  The conservator can accept and pay money on behalf of your children and make decisions regarding their property and financial interest.  Were you to die or become incapacitated, the court would refer to your will or trustto see if you nominated a conservator for your children.  As with naming a guardian, absent anomination , the court would have to appoint someone to serve in this role.

Planning for Their Money

It is also critical that you have an estate plan which directs where your assets and property will go in the event of your death.  Planning your children’s bequest will require that you consider where you want their funds and assets to be held and how they can be used for their support.  Having a will can ensure your property is left to your children and that, if necessary, a guardian and conservator are named.  Another option to accomplish these goes is through a trust.  Creating a trust also provides you with more control over how resources will be held and used for your children.  For instance, you could include specific language which states that the trust assets are to be used for your children’s education and health care needs. Additionally, you have the option of creating a revocable trust while you are alive and makingchanges to the trust terms as needed.

We understand the issues involved in planning for the future of your estate as a single parent and can help you examine your options and protect children’s interest.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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