With an ever-growing list of day-to-day responsibilities, being a parent is hard—never mind being a single parent! It’s hard enough to find the time to go grocery shopping and take a shower. Carving out time not only to think about what would happen to your children should you become incapacitated or worse but to actually plan your estate so that your children and assets are protected…well, that may feel impossible to the stressed out, overworked, hardly-has-time-to-breathe single parent.
However, especially for single parents, estate planning is an absolute must. As the primary guardian and caretaker of your children, having a plan in place for the worst case scenario is the best way to keep your children safe and your assets protected—no matter what happens.
Here are 6 estate planning documents that, as a single parent, you should consider drafting:
Living Trust. A living trust gives you the ability retain ownership of your assets while you are alive. You will name a trustee who will be in charge of your assets in the event you die or are incapacitated. A good trust will name an individual who can distribute the inheritance the way you want, such as paying for college, food, and/or a downpayment on a house. A good trust can also help your family avoid probate, which can save your loved ones time and money and a whole lot of emotional distress.
Will. A will will help you name who is responsible for your estate, and who you want to pass your estate on to when you die. A will can also name guardians for your children in the event of death or incapacitation.
Nomination of Guardian document. Naming a guardian for your children can be tricky if you are a single parent, since the court will most likely award guardianship to your child’s other parent, regardless of your nomination. That being said, you can still nominate a guardian in a Nomination of Guardian document in the event that the other parent cannot take care of your child.
Power of Attorney. As a single parent, you are the only person who can sign your checks and pay your bills. If you are incapacitated, you would need someone to pay your mortgage and other bills, and generally ensure that your kids are well taken care of. A power of attorney will name someone who can manage your finances in the event you cannot.
Beneficiary Forms. Regarding the amount of money in your life insurance policy, you will want beneficiary forms to designate those assets. You do not want to name minors on those forms, since they cannot manage the assets until they are 18. Ask your estate planning attorney the best way to ensure your children to benefit from your life insurance and 401K plans.
List of Contacts. This is simple but important. Make a list of the important people who would be necessary to contact if something should happen to you, such as legal and financial advisors and their phone numbers. Have a list of family and friends to be contacted as well. Don’t forget to list all of your financial institutions and bank accounts, including passwords that only you have access to.
As a single parent, you are already doing so much for your children. With a solid estate plan in place, you can have peace of mind that, should something happen to you, your children will still be well taken care of—emotionally and financially. Partner with an estate planning attorney who can help you get the necessary documents squared away, so you can focus on the more important things in your life: your children!
Contact the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia
Attorney James M. Miskell and the team of estate planning attorneys at the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia are available to help you plan your estate, whether you are a single parent, single without children, a married couple, a blended family, or any other family structure! We bring compassion into your planning, and are sensitive to the many nuances of estate planning. Use the brief form to contact us about your estate planning needs below, and a member of our legal team will contact you shortly!