Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Why single parents may need an estate plan

The primary concern for Florida single parents of minor children may be making sure their children are cared for by a guardian of their choice and that they can access the parent’s assets. In some cases, the child may be able to live with the other parent. However, if that parent is dead or otherwise unable to parent, it may be necessary to appoint someone else as guardian.

Parents should think about who they want the child to live with and who will have the right to make important decisions about such elements of the child’s life as health care and education. Information such as this can be included in a trust that they set up for the child. The parent’s assets, including life insurance and any compensation that comes from lawsuits related to the parent’s death, can go into the trust. The parent also has the opportunity to determine who will be the trustee, what the money will be used for and how much control the child will have over the trust.

The trust can clarify several other things as well. For example, it can say who will have visitation rights and who can take the child on vacation. Not every part of a parent’s wishes may be legally enforceable, but this does give family members guidelines.

While estate planning may be particularly important for single parents, adults may need estate plans even if they have few assets or family members. If they do not have a will or other estate plan, their assets will be distributed based on state law, and this could go against their wishes. Furthermore, an essential element of an estate plan is paperwork in case the person is incapacitated. Powers of attorney for health care and finances appoint people to take on these responsibilities.