The importance of estate planning for single parents cannot be overstated at all. As unpleasant as it might be, you need to think about what would happen to your children, who would handle your finances, and who would make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation or death and plan for it accordingly.
With the guidance of an experienced California estate planning lawyer, you can create a plan that will ensure that your children are taken care of, and your financial affairs are handled by a person of your choosing.
Estate Planning for Single Parents – The Essential Components
Designating a Guardian for Your Children
As a single parent, this should be your number one priority. By designating a guardian, you can make sure that your children’s needs are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or untimely death.
Some single parents choose to designate the other parent as the guardian for their children. However, such a move is advisable only if the other parent is someone you can trust and if they are capable of and willing to take care of your children.
If the other parent is remarried and has children of their own, taking care of your children might be a problem for them. Similarly, if they do not have a stable job or struggling with debt, they might find it difficult to take care of your children’s needs. More importantly, if the other parent has a physical or mental problem that might make it difficult for them to take care of your children, you should definitely choose someone else as the guardian for your children.
Under California law, a legal guardian for minor children must be of 18 years of age or older and should have a clean record. The person you choose must be able to take care of your children, make educational, financial, and healthcare decisions on their behalf, and ensure all their needs are met.
Financial Power of Attorney
Financial power of attorney is a legal status which allows a person of your choosing to handle your financial affairs and make financial decisions on your behalf. If you become ill or suffer an injury and become incapacitated to the point that you cannot make any decision on your own, the designated agent will step into your shoes and handle your finances. With that said, they can take care of your children’s financial needs as well.
Advance Healthcare Directive
Considering the increased average lifespan, the risk of incapacitation in the final years of life has also increased. An advance healthcare directive is a document which specifies your healthcare preferences in a detailed manner. In the event of your incapacitation, you will be treated according to the instructions given in the document.
A healthcare directive serves three important purposes.
- First, it specifies what kind of treatment you want to receive, so that you can be treated exactly as per your wishes.
- Second, it specifies what kind of treatment you do not want to receive, so that you are not subjected to any treatment that you would not have approved of under normal circumstances.
- Third, it allows you to designate an agent who is authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Setting up a trust is one of the best ways to make sure your assets are managed as per your wishes and passed on to your children when they become adults.
Contrary to what many people think, a trust is not just meant for rich people. Under California law, if your assets are valued at $150,000 or more, your estate must go through probate.
You can avoid probate by setting up a trust, put all your assets into it, designate a trustee, and designate your children and other family members (if any) as the beneficiaries. If you become incapacitated or die, your trustee will administer your trust and manage your assets until your children become adults.
Depending on your preference, you can set up a revocable or irrevocable trust. While a revocable trust can be amended as many times as you want, it does not offer you protection against lawsuits or creditors’ claims. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended (except under rare circumstances) but can protect your assets against liens and lawsuits.
Need to Create an Estate Plan? Let Our Attorneys Help You!
At Garmo & Garmo, we know the importance of estate planning for single parents. We can assess your needs as a single parent, take your unique concerns into consideration, and create an estate plan that can ensure your assets are protected and your children are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or untimely death.
Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of California’s estate planning laws and have over 80 years of combined experience. To discuss your needs with one of our attorneys, call us today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.