Regardless of age, for parents who are interested in estate planning, the most pressing issue is almost always caring for children. The expectations that a parent has for their child often end up shaping the estate plans that get written.
For single parents, these conversations are often more critical. Instead of leaving behind a spouse who will be able to make sure that the child or children is cared for, the death of a single parent has the potential to result in many more obstacles being suddenly created for a child.
Because the Census Bureau reports that there are 13.6 million single parents in the United States, this article reviews some of the estate planning documents that can be particularly helpful for adults in this situation.
The Value of Creating a Living Trust
Many single parents benefit greatly by creating a living trust, which is a legal entity into which a person places property and assets. While a single parent is alive, they are able to monitor all of the assets that are in the trust and if necessary manage them. After the single parents dies or becomes incapacitated, an appointed trustee will continue managing these assets and make distributions of the assets to your surviving children.
One of the reasons why living trusts are so helpful is that parents can set an age at which a child will be able to access the assets that are placed in the trust. One substantial advantage of living trusts is that they avoid the probate process.
Selecting a Guardian is Critical for Single Parents
Appointing a guardian for minor children is critical for a single parent. This guardian will look over the children until they reach the age of eighteen or sometimes longer if a child is disabled. Selecting a guardian, however, is sometimes a very difficult decision to make.
If you fail to make a decision about who will act as a guardian, a probate court judge will likely appoint someone to watch over a child.
The Value of Power of Attorney Documents
Many single parents are solely responsible for owning the family residence and managing any money in a bank account. This can create some significant challenges if the person becomes incapacitated.
Fortunately, a durable power of attorney document allows a single parent to appoint someone to make financial or healthcare decision in case the single parent becomes incapacitated and can no longer take care of themself.
Wills Play an Important Role for Single Parents
While many single parents find great value in living trusts, it is also important to create a last will and testament.
These estate planning documents appoint an individual who will be in charge of your estate after your die. Some parents decide to also nominate a guardian to take care of any minor children in a will.
Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer
If you are a parent who is interested in creating the best estate plan possible to care for children, one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free case evaluation.