The short answer is yes, single parents, just like married parents, should think about estate planning. If you are reading this, you, or someone you know, is probably a single parent. With that, you may be wondering, “but won’t everything automatically go to my child(ren) anyway?” or “does estate planning really make sense if I don’t have any assets to pass down?” In this blog, we provide guidance on some of these general questions by providing some of the main benefits of estate planning for single parents.
Your children. The biggest benefit to estate planning for single parents is your child(ren), especially if they are still minors. While children in two parent households certainly rely on both of their parents a great extent, children growing up in single parent households only have the option of relying on that one parent. In the unfortunate event something was to happen to you, your child would have no other parent to rely on. As such, while no one wants to think about their mortality, you must think about what would happen to your children in the event of your untimely death. Estate planning gives you the option of choosing a legal guardian over your child if you were to pass away when your child is still a minor. Without estate planning, you will leave the decision totally up to a court, which could cause a lot of additional stress and emotional hardship on your child(ren) and extended family.
Freedom to choose how your estate is administered. Another benefit for single parents is to choose how your estate will be administered upon your death. The most common way to accomplish this is through a Last Will and Testament, although there are other devices to use, such as a trust. Estate planning gives you the ability to choose exactly how specific assets will be distributed to certain individuals. On the other hand, if you do not do any estate planning, your estate will be considered an “intestate estate,” and will be distributed according to statutory code, which can cause confusion and conflict between families. Ultimately, it is your estate, and planning your estate gives you the freedom of choice.
Designation of an individual to make important decisions. Finally, a benefit of estate planning for single parents is the ability to make designations of individuals to make important life decisions. For example, you can create a Power of Attorney, which gives an individual you trust the ability to make important decisions relating to your life, such as financial decisions, in the event that you become incapacitated. Or, you can nominate a health care representative, which provides an individual with the power to make health care decisions, based upon your directives, in the event you are unable to make these decisions yourself. Designating individuals to make important decisions can be an especially important benefit for single parents.
Life is unexpected. Things happen to people every day, and while we should always hope for the best, we can also plan for the worst. Estate planning can help give you peace of mind in particular as it relates to your children, as well as make it a little easier for those around you in the event something does happen to you. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all areas of estate planning. It is written and posted for general educational purposes and is not to be construed as legal advice or solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.