Your Estate Plan as a Single Parent

What will happen if I do not name a guardian for my minor child?

As a single parent, you face the challenges of solely supporting and raising your minor child.  The life of a single parent can be stressful and overwhelming, but also incredibly rewarding as you watch your children grow and flourish.  One of the many challenges a single parent must face is tackling the question of what will happen if you pass away. For couples, when one parent passes, the children will still remain safely in the care of the other, but single parents must make a plan to ensure their children will be protected in the event of their death.  Our Orange County, California estate planning lawyers discuss some important estate planning tips for single parents.

Select a Guardian for Your Minor Child

In the state of California, should you, as a single parent, pass away without a will that names a guardian for your minor child, the court will be forced to select someone for you.  Your children could potentially be placed in foster care as the court deliberates. The court will consider the wishes of any relative or friend who petitions to take care of the child.  Ultimately, the court will place the child in the home that they feel is in the child’s best interests. You will have no control over this choice and your child could be placed in the care of a person whom you would not have selected.
To avoid this uncertainty and heartache, you will need to take the time now to create a will that names a guardian for your minor child.  It is far from an easy task to select a guardian for your child. You will want to assess your options carefully. Consider who among your friends and relatives will rear your child in the same manner that you would have.  Ask yourself if the person has the same values as you and will they be committed to spending time and energy on your child, as you would have. Further weigh whether your potential guardian has the financial resources to raise your child.
Consider naming an alternate guardian in case your first choice guardian is unable or unwilling to serve. Further weigh whether you should set up a trust that would offer financial resources to your child during his or her lifetime.  This can ease the financial burden on the guardian. Contact an estate planning lawyer to help you to create an estate plan that will fully protect your children.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.