Having a comprehensive estate plan is important for every person, regardless of whether you are single or married or you have children. However, there are very important reasons why it is crucial for a single parent to have a will and an estate plan. When a married parent passes away, children typically remain with the other parent who continues to care for and provide for the children, but what happens when the parent is single.
A single parent must ensure that he or she has provided for the care and upkeep of a child if the parent is suddenly gone. This situation is more complicated if the other parent has passed away or not in the child's life for some reason.Therefore, it is very important that single parents contact a Gainesville estate planning attorney to discuss how you can protect your children if you become incapacitated or pass away.
Call The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (352) 450-1367 to request a free consultation with a Gainesville probate attorney.
Creating a Will
It is a good practice to review your estate plan periodically to ensure that your plan continues to reflect your wishes and meets your goals for protecting property and heirs. However, certain life events might require an immediate change in your estate plan. Common examples of reasons why you need to review your estate plan include:
It is essential that you have a valid will in place if you are a single parent. In a will, you can name a guardian for your child to provide for the day-to-day physical and emotional care for your child. You can also name a trustee to manage and invest the child's inheritance until your child reaches the age you specify to terminate the trust.
Without a will, the court determines who will serve as your child's guardian, which may not be the person you would choose to raise your child. In addition, your child inherits the entire balance of your estate when he turns eighteen years of age. Most parents would not want their 18-year old child to be in control of a substantial amount of money. With a will, you can remain in control of the decisions that impact your child after your death.
We all experience life events that can cause your estate plan to no longermeet your goals or needs. The key to ensuring that your property is protected, and your heirs are provided for within your estate plan is to review your plan after any major life event. However, we strongly urge you to review your estate plan periodically with our Gainesville probate attorneys.
Create a Revocable Living Trust
You do not need to be wealthy to take advantage of the benefits of a trust agreement. With a revocable living trust, you can transfer assets to the trust to protect the assets from your creditors and provide for your child if you become incapacitated. A will only become effective upon your death. However, you can name a successor trustee to manage the trust if you cannot do so yourself for any reason. The trust assets can be used to support yourself and your child during your lifetime. Upon your death, the trust can continue to provide income for your child. In addition, a trust can avoid probate and estate taxes.
Other Estate Planning Tools for Single Parents
In most cases, a spouse takes control over the personal care and management of finances if his or her partner becomes incapacitated or passes away. Taking advantage of some of the other estate planning tools can help ensure that you and your children are protected in a variety of situations.
Some of the documents you may want to discuss with your Gainesville estate planning attorney include:
- General Durable Power of Attorney — This document gives someone the authority to act on your behalf in financial matters if you are unable to do so yourself. However, a General Durable POA gives broad and often unlimited powers to your agent; therefore, discuss the pros and cons of a POA with your attorney before deciding to use this financial tool.
- Health Care Power of Attorney — A Healthcare POA names someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make those decisions for yourself. It is important to name someone who understands you and your wishes regarding healthcare choices.
- Living Will — A Living Will directs medical providers to provide or withhold life-sustaining care if you are terminally ill. You can also name an agent to enforce the choices you make in your Living Will.
- Beneficiary Designations — Some assets do not you pass through your probate estate, such as life insurance and retirement accounts. However, naming a minor child as a beneficiary could be problematic. You can discuss ways to address this matter with your Gainesville estate planning attorney to ensure that your child is protected after your death.
- Trust Agreements — In addition to a Revocable Living Trust, there are several different types of trust agreements you may utilize for estate planning purposes. Your attorney can discuss the pros and cons of each agreement to help you choose the best options for you and your child.
Contact a Gainesville Probate Attorney for Help
If you have questions about estate planning as a single parent, our Gainesville estate planning attorney can help. Contact The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. by calling (352) 450-1367 or by using the contact form above to request a free consultation.