Estate Planning Must-Haves For Single Parents

September 13, 2021
Estate Planning Must-Haves For Single Parents

If you are a single parent, life for you right now probably couldn’t get any busier. You are likely being pulled between work, school activities, and home – and the inevitable emergencies that fill the lives of single parents everywhere.

Being a single parent is a huge responsibility, even if you do share time with a parenting partner, and especially so if you don’t. Regardless, as a single parent, your children’s lives are now largely in your hands.  So what would happen to them if something happened to you?  Who would take care of them?  Who would pay for their housing and food?  Who would pay for their education?  These are questions you need to get answered, and the best way to do that is through estate planning.

Having an estate plan that covers the care of your children in case you should be in a severe accident, fall ill, or die, welcomes peace of mind for the single parent knowing everything and everyone they love is taken care of.  Here are the must-haves that can protect your children if something were to ever happen to you:

Will

A will lets you name the person responsible for handling your estate and belongings as well as who will inherit your assets. Most importantly this is the legal vehicle you use to name a guardian for your children; without a will, the state will decide their who will raise them. The greatest risk you leave behind when ignoring this piece of your estate plan is that your children could be taken into the care of strangers at any time.

Revocable Living Trust

There are so many benefits of a living trust for single parents.  First, a trust enables you to still control your money and property while you’re able, but if you die or become incapacitated, it transitions that decision-making authority immediately to the person you have named as your trustee (obviously someone you can trust and count on to do what you would have wanted).  If your children are still minors or even young adults their inheritance can be handled for them until the time comes when they are capable (and you can decide when that that time will be).  Plus, if you have a trust, your estate doesn’t have to go through probate, which can be costly and time-consuming. Without a trust, you risk draining your hard-earned money on probate costs and delays. This is not ideal if your children still rely on you for their basic needs and expenses.

Durable Power of Attorney

As a single parent, you are likely the only signatory on your mortgage, your bank accounts, and other financial instruments.  What would happen if you became incapacitated and there was no one to pay the mortgage or the bills?  That is why it is important to have a durable power of attorney in place. When choosing your the agent in your power of attorney, it is extremely important that it be someone you trust completely to manage your financial affairs, and this person may also be making important legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Advance Medical Directive

An advance medical directive or health care power of attorney allows you to choose someone you trust to make health care decisions for you, in case you are not capable of doing so yourself.  This is especially important if you are not re-married or do not have immediate family members nearby.

Beneficiary Forms

Your life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and brokerage accounts all require beneficiary designations.  Those you designate to receive the assets in these accounts will only receive them if you execute the proper beneficiary forms!  Otherwise these assets are at risk of going through the probate process and being distributed according to state intestacy laws. Talk with us, your Personal Family Lawyer®, today about strategies to leave these assets to your children without court intervention.

Kids Protection Planning Kit®

Developed by a nationally recognized attorney who is a single mom herself, the Kids Protection Planning Kit® provides single parents with the legal planning tools they need to make sure there is never a question about who will take care of your kids if you are in an accident. The kit includes legal documents to name short- and long-term guardians, instructions for those guardians, medical powers of attorney for your minor children, and more.

You can name your guardians right now with my Kids Protection Plan Tool, it only takes minutes, and it’s absolutely free.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the protection of yourself and your family through thoughtful estate planning. Call our office or use our online tool today to schedule your free Family Wealth Planning Session™  so we can discuss together how to protect what matters most to you, and identify the best strategies for you and your family.

This article is a service of Casey Schwartz, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Casey Schwartz - Estate Planning Attorney Charleston, SC

Schwartz Legacy Planning, LLC

We’re estate planning attorneys who help South Carolina and Maryland families protect their loved ones from court and conflict.

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