Single parents have so many things to think about on any given day, including bills, homework, clubs, sports, work, chores, errands, and more. Single moms especially seem to have more to do every day. Most single parents keep putting off estate planning because they’re so busy. However, you should consider these estate planning strategies for single mothers before you need them.
Guardianship for Minor Children
If you pass away suddenly, become incapacitated, or develop a long-term disease requiring travel for treatment, can you rely on your family members to support your children? Can you trust a friend to look after your kids for an extended period?
You can nominate a guardian for minor children in your last will and testament. If you die in an accident, become incapacitated in a coma, or develop an advanced form of cancer or dementia, the court will consider your nomination of a guardian to care for your children.
The exception is that if the other parent is alive, fit to care for your children, and able to act, the probate court will likely place your children in the other parent’s care, regardless of your nomination of guardian. Still, you should include a guardian nomination if the other parent cannot fulfill that role.
You should also consider whether your guardian nomination can care for your children. If you nominated a guardian who was 62 when your child was five but is now 72 while your child is 15, your original choice of guardian may no longer be able to keep up with your child.
Leaving an Inheritance for Your Children
In your estate planning strategies for single mothers, consider what your children will need after you pass away or become incapacitated. How do you leave them access to your accounts? Do you own your home and want to leave it to them? How do they inherit funds from your retirement accounts?
While you can draft a will and leave them these assets, wills must go through probate. The court will use assets from your estate to pay your final expenses, taxes, and debts. Wills that enter probate become part of the public record, and minor children won’t be able to receive their inheritance until they turn 18.
A trust bypasses probate, allowing the trustee to distribute assets based on your instructions in the trust agreement. You can create a pour-over will to add assets to the trust after you pass away. You can also dictate when your children receive some or all of their inheritance.
Additionally, if you separated from your spouse but never officially divorced, and you die without a will or trust (called dying “intestate”), your spouse will legally inherit your entire estate. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a will or trust.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning strategies for single mothers are complex legal issues. Call Jordan & White, LLC, at (978) 744-2811 or fill out the firm’s contact form to schedule a consultation with an attorney in Danvers, MA.