No one with young children wants to think that something might happen to them. But for a single parent, that difficult thought brings on added worries. After all, what will happen to your child should the unthinkable happen. Everyone with children should prepare a will and other important documents. In my law practice, I help single parents carefully think through what they would want to happen to their child if they unexpectedly passed away or became incapacitated. Here are a few guidelines to help.
Make a Will
Younger people often think a will is something older people need. But parents of young children, and especially single parents, need a will more than almost anyone else. That’s because in addition to money and property, you have the care of your child to consider. Whether your assets are vast or modest, a will carefully lays out your wishes. This keeps your children from experiencing a lengthy court battle among various relatives, which happens more often than you might think. You’ll want to revisit and update the will as your children grow.
Name a Guardian
One of the most important sections of your will is to name a guardian. This person, a very close relative or friend whom you trust deeply, will care for your child if you pass away and the child’s other parent is not alive or has no parental rights; a guardian can also manage the money that goes to your children from your will. You can additionally name a guardian in a document outside of your will. Florida law allows you to designate a “preneed guardian,” a person who will be legally responsible for your children if you become incapacitated, a condition that does not trigger the will. This simple document can be drafted by an attorney when they make up your will. You’ll want to revisit your choice of guardian over the years. Someone who might be appropriate for your children when they are young might not be best if they are teenagers, especially if that would mean uprooting them to another state.
Determine If You Need a Special Trust
If you have a lot of money or a child with special needs, you might want to create a trust for your children. This money (or a life insurance policy disbursement) is placed into the trust account at a bank when you create it. Your child cannot access this money until they reach the age you specify, typically 21 or later, or is managed for their lifetime by an appointed trustee.
Consider a Trustee
If you prefer to break up the roles of the person who would care for your children and the one who oversees their money, you can name a trustee in your will to manage your child’s assets. The trustee’s role can terminate when your child reaches adulthood, or can continue for as long as desired. Life Insurance You can name your minor child as a beneficiary of your life insurance. But if you pass away before they become of age, their guardian or trustee will be in charge of the money.
If you are interested in drafting a will or other estate documents for your family’s needs in North or South Florida, contact us today at Thomas McDonald Law Firm (904) 674-3389.