Morris & Morris, A Law Corporation - Estate Planning

Estate planning is crucial for single parents

Life as a single parent is difficult. Your children count on you for everything, but you also have to take care of yourself. There are many aspects that you must think about, including what is going to happen to your children if you pass away or become incapacitated. While it isn't pleasant to think about this, it is necessary.

While you are still mentally and physically able, you need to sit down and come up with a solid plan for the kids. This includes every aspect of their life from who will care for them to how their care costs will be covered. The more you plan for this now, the more at peace you might feel knowing that things aren't going to be left up in the air.

Plan for your final days

You must make plans for your final days just in case you become incapacitated. Someone will need to make decisions regarding your health care and your finances if you are unable to make them. You need to set a power of attorney. This will only become effective if you are considered legally incapacitated, so the individuals you name won't be able to do things until then.

You should also set up your living will. This document outlines what specific medical care you are willing to undergo and what you don't want. If you don't want resuscitation as part of your medical care, you should sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order and have it put into your record at any medical facility at which you receive care.

Set up guardianship and related plans

Someone will need to raise your children when you aren't able to do so yourself. You can name a guardian for them, but make sure this is someone who is willing to care for them and who will be up for the task. As tempting as it is to name your parents, think about what this will mean to them. If they are older, they might not be able to keep up with the demands, especially if your children are younger. It is a good idea to name a secondary guardian just in case the primary one has to decline the responsibility. Talk to the guardians about things you feel strongly about, such as education or religion so that they can try to adhere to your wishes.

Outline an asset plan

Any assets to pay for the children's expenses need to be handled in an appropriate manner. This can involve setting up a trust, including a revocable living trust that enables you to keep control of the assets while you are alive. Once you pass away, the terms of the trust go into effect. You can even set requirements for the trust disbursement, such as noting that it must be used for a college education or that it is tiered so certain amounts are handed out at milestone occasions like graduating high school or getting married.

Don't forget about setting up a will for assets not covered in the trust. You should also check the payable on death designations on life insurance and financial accounts to ensure it will go to someone who will help care for the children.

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