Every parent worries about what will happen to his or her children after the parent dies. With this in mind, single parents have double their worries. If you are married, the default option is that your children will stay with your spouse. They may remain living in the same house. Based on finances, your spouse will most likely continue to work to support and take care of them. It is horrible to think about your spouse and children having to adjust to life without you. It’s even scarier to think about your children’s future without you if you are a single parent. Therefore, it is crucial for single parents to get started on estate planning — even single parents who are young and healthy.
The Worst-Case Scenario
Estate planning for single parents is critical if you have minor children. For example, if you die without a will when your children are minors, the court will require a legal guardianship. Guardianship allows the court to decide who gets custody of them. Maybe they will live with your ex-spouse, even though the relationship may not be strong. On the other hand, maybe they will live with your dreaded ex-mother-in-law. Maybe the court will grant custody of your children to your sister who hates kids. Worst yet, what if your children go into foster care and have to stay there until they are legal adults. The point is that unless you write a will, it is the court’s choice, not yours.
There is More to Estate Planning for Single Parents Than Just Wills
You may have heard that some people set up a living trust in addition to a will. Setting up a living trust is a sound option of comprehensive estate planning for single parents who own real property or with larger estates. A living trust is a legal entity (like a company, except for family, not business) that owns the assets you place in it. The trustee can use the assets in the trust to pay for expenses of the designated beneficiaries (usually your children). While you are alive and well, you are the trustee, the person who makes decisions about the money in the trust. As a single parent, you should designate an alternate person to be the trustee if you become incapacitated. That person can be a relative, a friend, or even a legal or financial professional.
Living trusts are not just for very wealthy people. The “trust fund baby” stereotype comes from the fact that living trusts are a popular way for wealthy people to give money to their children and grandchildren. When considering estate planning as a single parent, you need to prepare for the worst. You do not want strangers to make legal and financial decisions about your children if you become too ill to take care of them. Estate planning no longer has a high price tag. In fact, you don’t even need to hire an estate planning lawyer to help you write a will or set up a living trust. Hiring a registered legal document assistant (LDA) is a cost-effective alternative.
Low-Cost Estate Planning for Single Parents
Estate planning for single parents does not have to break the bank. A registered legal document assistant (LDA) can help you prepare your will, living trust, and other estate planning documents. Best of all, our fees are substantially lower than you would have to pay to a lawyer. People often confuse legal document assistants with paralegals. Remember, unlike a legal document assistant, a paralegal is not licensed in California to perform these kinds of document services. Make sure you hire an experienced legal document assistant for your legal document needs. Contact A People’s Choice about estate planning document preparation. Call us today at 805-648-5540.
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