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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Estate Planning for Single Parents - You Should Be Doing These 3 Things

Every parent should develop a complete estate plan to provide for and protect their children in the event that the parent dies before the child grows up and moves away from home. If you are living with the child's other parent, it is unlikely that the child will have to move away from the home, change schools, and adjust to a new neighborhood. For a single parent, there is no such safety net for the child.

Whether the relationship with the child's other parent ended through divorce or death or the other parent never was involved in the child's life, a single parent needs to provide far more protections for the child than a couple would need to arrange. There is not enough space here to cover all of the issues that a single parent needs to address in the estate plan. A Texas estate planning attorney can help you explore the issues unique to your situation and draft the documents you need.

As a single parent thinking about your estate plan, you should be doing these three things:

1. An Assessment

You should be thinking about:

  • Your goals and expectations for your child
  • Your child’s abilities and interests
  • Your child’s limitations and challenges

After you evaluate those factors, you will be in a better position to decide whether your estate plan should limit your child's access to funds, and if so, at what age those restrictions should terminate. You will be able to plan for college funding or make other arrangements if your child is unlikely to be college-bound.

2. Attend to Custody Issues

It will be hard enough for your child to deal with your death. You do not want him to have to move out of the home and live somewhere else. Also, you do not want that living situation to be miserable, neglectful, or abusive.

Depending on your situation with your family and friends, you might want to consider whether an appropriate guardian would be willing to move into your house to avoid such a considerable disruption in your child's life. If such a person exists within your circle of loved ones, you might want to have a conversation with that person about the terms of such an arrangement.

If your relationship with the child's other parent is cordial, you could discuss the issue of where your child will live if you die before the child is ready to be on his own. In some situations, moving to the other parent’s house would be an acceptable solution. Try to think about what your child would want and focus on his happiness and well-being.

The other parent usually has the legal right to be the custodial parent in the event of your death, but quite a few non-custodial parents would be less than enthused about taking on full-time parenting. In this circumstance, the child's other parent might welcome an alternate arrangement. The parent could answer uncomfortable questions one day by saying that here he is honoring your wishes and that you did not want the child to have to move out of his home and neighborhood.

3. Put Things in Writing

Merely thinking about these issues and reaching verbal agreements with the child’s other parent and others would be a pointless exercise if you don't draft and properly execute the legal documents needed to carry out your wishes. A living trust will give you far more flexibility and options than a traditional will. A Texas estate planning attorney can draft a living trust and other estate planning documents, like a power of attorney and healthcare proxy, to support the best possible outcome for your child.

Contact the Law Office of Carey Thompson and schedule a consultation to learn more.


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