Being a single parent is a huge responsibility. As a single parent, your children’s lives are completely in your hands. What would happen to your children if something happened to you? Who would take care of them, feed them and love them in your absence? Estate planning for single parents allows these important decisions to be legally formalized. As a single parent, you should consider creating an estate plan to make sure your children are taken care of in the event of your disability, incapacity, or death. Read on to learn more about the importance of single parent estate planning, what decisions will need to be made, and how A People’s Choice can help you.

Why Single Parents Need An Estate Plan

There are several reasons why single parent estate planning should be a top priority. Single parents do not have a spouse that can step in and take over should the unforeseen happen such as a severe accident or untimely death. Who will take care of the minor children, handle financial affairs or make sure doctors follow your wishes should a single parent be unable to do these tasks themselves? Proper single parent estate planning will insure that your children are properly  taken care of and your finances kept in order should you not be able to handle these responsibilities yourself.

Five Single Parent Estate Planning Decisions

1. Nomination of Guardian for Minor Children

Single parent estate planning includes nominating a guardian for minor children. Nominating a legal guardian can make sure your children are cared for in the event of your death, disability, or incapacity.  California guardianship laws allows an appointed family member or friend to do one or more of the following tasks for your children:

    1. Assume the maintenance and care of your children
    2. Make financial, educational, and medical decision on your child’s behalf
    3. Report to the court on an annual basis about the guardianship status

In order to be appointed as a legal guardian, the person must be at least 18-years-old and cannot have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. Depending on your lifestyle or medical condition, you may want to arrange for a temporary or permanent  guardianship of your children. As a single parent, the other parent may be able to keep custody of your child. In the event your child’s parent is not fit or able to do so, nominating a guardian of your children in your estate documents is an important aspect of single parent estate planning. When you die without a will, your children may end up on the custody and control of someone you may not want. A nominated guardian will make sure your wishes and your children’s well-being are given important consideration.

2. Power of Attorney to Handle Finances

In the event you become extremely ill or unable to handle your personal finances, a financial power of attorney will allow you to name someone you trust to handle your finances for you. A durable power of attorney is usually set up to spring into effect in the event you should become incapacitated. The person designated as your attorney-in-fact will be able to manage your expenses, pay your bills, make deposits and withdrawals at your local bank, and monitor your investments.

A power of attorney will allow the attorney-in-fact to pay expenses for the care of your children in the event you are unable to do so. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about drafting a power of attorney to handle your finances.

3. Healthcare Directive to Direct Right to Die Plans

An Advanced Healthcare Directive is another import aspect of single parent estate planning.The Advanced Healthcare Directive instructs physicians and others about your medical care wishes should you be unable to make decisions on your own.  As a single parent, you have no spouse who can be responsible for this task. Close family members have no authority and cannot make these decisions for you. The Healthcare Directive only becomes effective under the specified terms within the document, typically upon a person’s incapacity. You can either appoint a healthcare agent who will have the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to, or make specific written instructions for your future healthcare.

As a single parent, you will want to draft a healthcare directive to make sure you can rely on a trusted friend or family member to make medical decisions on your behalf. This will make sure you receive medical treatment pursuant to your desires. It will also make sure that you do not receive medical treatment you do not want to be performed.

4. Plan to Handle Monies for Care of Children

Deciding how to handle monies for care of children is a very important aspect of estate planning for single parents. Usually a single parent does not want their former spouse (other parent) having control and access to monies designated for the children,  and will want to appoint a close family member for this task.  When drafting an estate plan, single parents may consider executing a revocable living trust to make sure the children’s financial needs are taken care of. This estate planning tool is used to tightly control the handling of monies for the care of your children. A trust will also specify how the monies are used and when monies are distributed. You can transfer assets into your trust that will cover your children’s living expenses. You can appoint a person to administer the trust according to your desires. For example, the trust can be used to pay expenses related to the care of your children relative to their education, medical, and recreational activities.

5. Protecting Your Children with Emergency Plans & College Plans

Appointing a legal guardian and creating a living trust are estate planning tools that will protect your children in case of an emergency. As mentioned above, a nominated and appointed legal guardian will be able to make financial and educational decisions on behalf of your children. Single parent estate planning can include trust provisions that will allocate funds to cover your children’s college expenses.

Help With Estate Planning for Single Parents

Estate planning for single parents does not have to be costly. In fact, did you know you do not need a lawyer to draft your estate planning documents? A People’s Choice has prepared estate planning documents for over 35 years and offer several different options for single parents who want to get their estate in order should the unforeseen happen. Contact A People’s Choice for more information on our low-cost single parent estate planning packages to make sure your children are taken care of should you become disabled or incapacitated.

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