Every parent needs an estate plan, whether they are married or single. While estate plans for married parents and estate plans for single parents have similarities, there are a few things that single parents must be certain to include in their estate plan.
As a parent, your most pressing concern is the well-being of your children. Making an estate plan acknowledges the possibility that you may pass away before one or more of your kids are adults. Selecting a guardian who will care for your children is an essential component of any parent’s estate plan. In many cases, your children’s other parent would be the best choice of guardian for them, and it is likely that they would acknowledge that you would be the best guardian if they pass away. Sometimes, though, it is clear that a child’s other biological parent could not serve as guardian. If this is true for your situation, it is important that you take the time to weigh your available options for guardians. Be sure to discuss your choice with the person that you choose in advance of making it official, and have your estate planning attorney help you create a trust that would assist the guardian in caring for your children and providing for their education.
Some parents plan for the possibility that they might die before their children reach the age of majority by designating a guardian, but not all parents include provisions in their estate plans that would protect their children if they become incapacitated. Fortunately, your estate planning attorney can help you create documents that would address this situation. For example, the advance directive or living will is an estate planning document which spells out what your wishes for life-sustaining medical care are so that doctors can know them even if you can’t communicate those wishes to them on your own. Make sure that you also designate someone the ability to make health care decisions for you by creating a health care power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your finances, so be sure that your estate plan contains a durable power of attorney or revocable living trust to address that concern.
Life insurance is an essential element of ensuring that children will be provided for financially in the event of a parent’s death. Make sure that you select a life insurance policy that provides adequate coverage. Single parents may also want to consider disability insurance to protect yourself and your children if you become hurt or sick and cannot work.
The fourth piece of a comprehensive estate plan is trust planning, especially when you have minor children. Parents with children of any age can use trust planning to ensure that assets are managed and distributed in the manner that you direct them to be managed and distributed.
Finally, make sure that you keep all of your estate planning documents up to date. Life brings all kinds of changes, and it is important that your estate plan reflects your current circumstances so that it will adequately provide for your children if you die or become incapacitated. If you have kids and you want to create or update an estate plan, call Kansas Estate Planning Attorney Thomas McDowell at (316) 633-4322 today, to arrange an initial consultation.