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Your children are everything to you.

It can be a daunting task raising a child on your own, but watching them grow fills you with love and empowers you to make the right decisions.

You are the one responsible for making sure they are safe.

When they need something, it’s you they come to.

What would happen if you weren’t there?

Who will raise them if you aren’t able to?

Your children depend on you to make these decisions.

Who else will look after their best interests?

These are scary questions for anyone, but when you are the custodial parent, it’s an even more complicated question, especially if your child’s other biological parent is not fit to raise your child on their own.

You have to remember…

The surviving parent takes priority when it comes to custody.

Even if you raised your child on your own, unless the noncustodial parent is deemed unfit by the court, if they come forward to take custody of the child, in most cases, the court will grant it.

Not only that, without a Will or Trust, what you leave behind would be left to your children (if you are unmarried) and ultimately left in the hands of whoever is responsible for them (even your ex). This includes proceeds from any life insurance policy you have in place.

One way to protect your children is to name an appropriate guardian. This will protect your children from foster care if the other parent abandons the child or another family member does not step forward.

You can also use a trust and name a conservator to manage any assets you leave your children.

Estate planning for single parents does not have to be complicated or lengthy.

In fact, the right estate planning attorney can easily help you create a plan that answers all these questions and more. If you are concerned about providing for your children after you are gone, the most important thing you can do is make the decision now, so it is not made for you.

Without a plan, your estate will enter probate, your assets will be automatically transferred to your spouse (if you have remarried) or to your children (and those assets will automatically be controlled by your ex or whoever becomes their guardian).

A few pieces of paper allow you to legally call the shots on what happens next, so there is no question that the next steps focus on making the best decision for your children.

If you have questions or concerns about how an estate plan would work for you, please contact us today for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your child’s other parent is alive and able to care for them, they will. However, if your child’s other parent is unable or unfit to care for them, you will need to name a guardian to care for your children.

A Will is the first step in naming beneficiaries. You would use a Will to name what assets you would leave to your children. What’s important to understand is that leaving money to your children directly may not be the smartest decision. A Trust is a better vehicle because you can control how the money is distributed to your children and it preserves your control over how the money is used, versus leaving that decision to your children’s guardian or other parent. One important thing to note is proceeds from a life insurance policy cannot be left to a minor. This is another reason to use a Trust.

Without a Will in place, if you die, all of your remaining assets will automatically transfer to your spouse unless you have specifically named separate beneficiaries through your Will.

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