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Who will care for your children if the unexpected happens and you are unable to? Do your family members or friends know how provide for your children on a daily basis? Most probably do not know your family schedule, who needs to be where and when or that your daughter likes to sleep with her favorite stuffed bear. It is up to you to prepare for worst, and be ready if that situation were to arise. Single parents must make estate planning a high priority to ensure that your children are properly cared if you become incapacitated or die. Here are some starting points for estate planning.
Prepare a will, trust, power of attorney, and advance directives.If you have children, then you need a will. Intestate or dying without a will can be problematic. To avoid your estate being tied up in court, make a will immediately. Your will should specify who will take care of your children and how to distribute your assets. A power of attorney gives someone the legal right to act on your behalf. Writing a will you can leave instructions for guardianship and appoint an executor.
Buy life insurance or increase benefits to ensure adequate coverage.How much will it cost to for someone to care for your children until they turn 18? Do you want to leave money to cover college expenses? Do you have credit cards, student loans or other debts you want to pay off? Use an online life insurance calculator to get an idea of how much you may need or talk to an insurance agent. Also do not list your minor children as a beneficiary. If you do, a court may appoint a guardian to manage these funds until the child turns 18. Remember a will or trust does not determine what happens to retirement accounts or insurance policies.
Set up a living trust.Creating a living trust is important because it will keep you assets in a trust; therefore, eliminating the chance it is caught up in probate. It is worth looking into living revocable trust. A living trust allows your assets to immediately be transferred to a trustee to support your children. A trust gives puts the power in your hand to determine how your assets are used to pay for living, education, medical, travel expenses, and etc. until your child is of legal age.
Choose a guardian for your little ones.This is probably the most important, and the hardest part of estate planning. Of course no one will care for your child like you will, but you want to carefully consider this choice. Talk to those who you are considering and ask questions. Pick someone who shares similar values and will raise your children similar to how you would. Do not be afraid to question those people you have in mind that is the only way to narrow down your decision. You may also name a guardian in a Nomination of Guardian document.
Create a resource listAfter all is said and done you still need to make a list of important contact and information to assist your loved one including legal, health, insurance, and retirement. Be sure to include beneficiary information, account numbers and policy numbers along with your list of banks, investment accounts, emails or other online accounts so they can be closed.
ResourcesThe Mom’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning
By Liza Hanks
Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To
By Melanie Cullen & Shae Irving
For more information or to locate help with planning your estate visit
Disclaimer: This information is a starting point and is for informational purposes only. This information is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to estate planning.