Every adult needs an estate plan and this is especially true of single parents. After all, children of single parents may have no fallback guardian should the unthinkable happen meaning it is all the more important to have a contingency plan in place. The considerations that go into estate planning for single parents vary by the situation which is why it is crucial they consult an experienced estate planning attorney. In preparing to do so, every single parent should consider the following four questions.
1. Should I pass before my children reach adulthood, who will be their guardian?
The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of your single parenthood. For divorcees, it will be the children’s other parent as long as they are living and competent. In cases with no other available parent, a guardian will need to be chosen which, of course, is a delicate matter requiring careful thought.
Making guardianship designations is a step in writing your will. Before naming a person to this role it is important to have an honest conversation with potential candidates, however. While your own parents are those most likely to share your parenting values and style, their age might be cause for concern. One solution is to name substitute guardians who you, of course, will want to also ensure share your goals.
The role of legally appointed guardian comes with fiduciary responsibility which means that the appointed person may be held liable if found to have acted otherwise than in your children’s best interest. To understand all that this implies, it is worth speaking to an experienced estate planning attorney who can at once walk you through the many other considerations that accompany a guardianship designation.
2. How will my children be provided for in my absence?
As a single parent, you need not only think about appointing a guardian but about how to support your children financially should something happen to you, as well. Few people have the wealth to manage this without investing in life insurance; however, choosing a plan is not a simple matter.
Since it’s no simple matter, it shouldn’t be taken as such. Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney helps. As an expert on the matter, an estate planning attorney will be able to help you think about important financial considerations as well as discuss trust planning to ensure your children will receive distributions appropriate to their age and needs.
3. How will my children be cared for if I become disabled?
Death is not the only consideration. Equally important to consider is what happens if illness or accident leaves you alive but unable to care for your children. Folks often jump to planning for what they consider to be the worst-case scenario of death, but an experienced estate planning attorney can make sure that proper attention is given to all the situations that life may present to your family. In this case, planning who will be able to assist in caring for and raising your children and how financial support can be provided.
4. What steps do I need to take if I remarry?
A final concern unique to estate planning for single parents is the possibility of remarrying one day. Blended families come with a range of estate planning complications that derive from the competing interests of your new spouse and your children. Naturally, each case will be different though rest assured that legal tools exist to navigate all possible scenarios. Again, an experienced estate planning attorney is your best resource for understanding which of those options is best for you.
To learn more about estate planning for single parents or to address any other estate planning matter do not hesitate to call the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia at 770-822-2723 or contact us through our website.
Contact Attorney James M. Miskell