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Important estate planning considerations for single parents

As a single parent of young children, there's a very good chance that you are constantly on the move, traveling between work and school, juggling your child's recreational activities with errands, and even managing the occasional crisis.

Indeed, your days are probably so busy that when you finally get a moment to yourself, the last thing you want to think about or sit down to research is estate planning.

While this is certainly understandable, it's also something of a mistake. That's because you have to consider not only what would happen to your children in the event or your incapacity, but what would happen to you. 

In light of this reality, legal experts recommend that single parents consider executing a comprehensive estate plan comprised of a few vital documents.

A simple will

The execution of a simple will is important as it enables you, the single parent, to appoint an executor of your estate. For those unfamiliar with this term, an executor is basically given the job of managing a deceased person's estate and overseeing matters in the probate process.

Even more important than appointing an executor, a simple will enables a single parent to appoint a guardian for their young children. It's important to note, however, that if the other biological parent is capable of being a fit parent, they will likely assume custody and care of the children.

Despite this reality, however, legal experts emphasis that it's still very important for a single parent to execute a will naming another person to act as guardian just in case the biological parent is not able to assume these duties.

Health care directive

A health care directive enables a person to clearly establish their precise wishes concerning the medical care they want to be administered in the event of their incapacity and, more importantly, appoint an agent to carry out these wishes or make decisions on their behalf.

This document is especially important for single parents, as their young children are certainly in no position to make these kinds of difficult decisions.

We will continue to examine this important topic in future posts. In the meantime, if you are married with children, single or recently divorced, and would like to learn more about your estate planning options, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate planning and the single parent," Alexandra Smyser, Jan. 16, 2015 

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