While every adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place, there are certain circumstances that make estate planning even more important. Becoming a parent, for example, increases the need for an estate plan while being a single parent should make estate planning a top priority for you. The Essex Junction attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC discuss estate planning for the single parent and offer suggestions for what should be in your single parent estate plan.
The Importance of Estate Planning for the Single Parent
If you are a single parent, you already know both the struggles and the joy that come along with parenting. If your status as a single parent was not planned, you are likely facing additional unintended challenges along with surprising rewards. Whether you intended to be a single parent or ended up parenting alone by circumstance, you undoubtedly want to make sure there is a plan in place to protect and provide for your child if something happens to you. Having a comprehensive estate plan in place is the only way to ensure that your wishes regarding your child will be honored should you pass away or become incapacitated.
Single Parent Estate Plan Components
A successful estate plan is one that is uniquely crafted to meet your needs and objectives. To ensure that your estate plan works as intended, you should work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney. As a single parent, however, there are some components that you will likely want to incorporate into your estate plan, such as:
- Trust agreement. One of your most important objectives will probably be to ensure that you leave behind sufficient assets to provide for your child if something happens to you. You may also have family heirlooms or other personal items you want to pass on to your child. Your minor child, however, cannot legally inherit directly from your estate, meaning your Last Will and Testament is not the best way to pass down assets to your child. Instead, you will likely want to create a trust to hold assets intended for your child. The Trustee you appoint when you create the trust will be responsible for managing the trust assets until your child is old enough to legally inherit those assets directly.
- Life insurance. Like many parents, you may be depending on the proceeds of a life insurance policy to provide financial security for your child if you pass away. Arranging for the proceeds of the life insurance policy to be paid out into the trust you created ensures that your designated Trustee will protect those funds and use them to provide for your child in your absence.
- Legal Guardian. For a single parent, one of the most important benefits of executing a Last Will and Testament is the ability to nominate a legal guardian for your minor child. If you are unable to care for your child, because of death or incapacity, a judge will need to appoint a legal guardian to take over for you. Nominating a guardian in your Will is the only way a judge will know who you want to care for your child.
- Healthcare and Durable Power of Attorney. If you are incapacitated and unable to make or communicate your wishes regarding healthcare decisions, someone else will need to make those decisions for you. By executing a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you can decide who that person will be. If you become incapacitated, an adult may also need to step in and take control of your finances and/or give legal consent for something related to your child. A durable POA lets you give someone the legal authority to do so.
- Letter of Instruction. A Letter of Instruction lets you put important information in writing and explain how you want your child to be raised. Although it is not a legally binding document, it provides you with the opportunity to pass down a wealth of important information to your child and/or your child’s future caregiver.
Do You Have Questions about Estate Planning for a Single Parent?
For more information, please check out our FREE webinars. If you have questions about estate planning for a single parent, contact an experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.