According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Data, 24 million children in the United States are living with an unmarried parent. Most of those children — 15 million of them — are living with a single mother. The rest are either living with a single father or with parents who are cohabiting but not married.
When it comes to estate planning for single parents, the process is nearly the same as that for married parents. However, there are a few key factors that Tampa trust lawyers urge single parents to consider.
Having Sufficient Insurance
As a one-parent family, you’re also probably a one-income family. Ensuring financial security for your child’s future will take a little extra planning. Life insurance is an effective tool to have as part of your estate plan. Consider including disability insurance as part of your plan too. If you become incapacitated in any way, the insurance will help replace your income.
Setting Up a Living Will
Speaking of becoming incapacitated, don’t forget to include a living will as part of your estate plan. For married parents, their spouse is often able to make the appropriate healthcare decisions. Single parents should have a living will or healthcare directive to ensure that their care is being handled according to their wishes. While you’re at it, have your estate planning attorney draw up a durable power of attorney for you so that someone can manage your finances on your behalf.
Establish a Trust
Contrary to what many may believe, trusts are not just for wealthy families. Setting up a trust will allow your assets to be managed by someone you trust. You can choose when and how to have those assets distributed to your child or children. Without a trust in place, your assets could end up in the control of your child’s other parent or someone appointed by the court.
Choose a Guardian
In many cases, custody of a minor child will go to the surviving parent if the custodial parent dies. If the surviving parent is unavailable or incapable of caring for the child, custody will go to the person designated as guardian in the custodial parent’s will. If no guardian has been named in the estate plan, it will be up to the court to choose someone to act as guardian. Rather than letting this decision fall into the hands of a judge who doesn’t know you or your child, choose someone you can trust and list them as your child’s guardian in your estate plan. Make sure you discuss this decision with the person you’ve chosen.
Review Your Estate Plan
Once you’ve done all of the necessary planning with your attorney, don’t forget to review your documents on a regular basis. As time goes on, your child’s needs will change. Your health or financial status may change as well. If you marry someone other than the child’s other parent, this could affect how your assets are distributed if you pass away.
The best way to make sure that your child will be provided for if something should happen to you is to work with an estate planning attorney. Our Tampa estate planning lawyers are here to help review your situation and advise you of what your options are and what’s best for you and your family. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to get started, simply contact our law firm at (813) 438-8503.