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Estate planning for single parents is critical

Single parents face some uphill battles as they raise their children. There is one area where two facets of the law intersect for these parents. These are family law and estate planning. It is vital to have plans for children should parents pass away. Without proper plans in place, your children can face serious uncertainty.

One thing to remember is that you need a new estate plan if you divorce. Your previous one is likely invalid and won't reflect your current wishes. Even if you have an estate plan in process, you can still take the time to review it to make sure that it has the necessary components.

Who is going to raise the children?

If the other parent is still involved with the children, he or she will likely raise them. If there isn't another parent in the picture, such as when parental rights have been terminated, you will need to think about whom you want to name as guardian. The person you choose should be financially, mentally and physically able to care for them. You must be realistic. For example, if your own parents are in frail health, they might not be the best option to raise toddlers.

Discuss your wishes with the person whom you are going to name as guardian. Find out if that person is willing to take on the responsibility. It is usually best to choose a person who knows the children so that your kids can have an easier adjustment.

How will expenses be covered?

It is a good idea to provide financial support for the children. Leaving behind a life insurance policy might help, but this likely won't provide immediate access to money. Instead, you might want to have a bank account set up so that the person can access those funds. Bank accounts are governed by payable on death designations so make sure you name the guardian as this person. You might also consider setting up trusts to provide another source of financial support.

Once you come up with your estate plan and get everything set, you need to review it at least annually to ensure that it still meets your needs. Sometimes, factors in your life might dictate some changes, so think about this carefully.

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