Useful Estate Planning Tips for Single Parents

Estate planning written on a piece of paper next to computer

Your spouse passed away or you went through a divorce. Now you find yourself a single parent. Do you worry about what will happen to your children if you die or become incapacitated? Consult a Knoxville estate planning attorney and get the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children will be provided for if you're gone or unable to care for them.


Estate planning attorneys recommend living trusts for single parents with minor children. You place assets in a trust for your children, specify what the assets can be used for, and name a person to manage the trust. If you die, your children don't have to wait until a will is probated or an estate is administered to get the funds they need. If you have a child with special needs, an attorney can draft a trust to provide for the child's financial needs and ensure the child doesn't lose government assistance.


All of your assets won't be put in a trust, so you'll need a will. Your will won't affect things like retirement accounts or insurance policies with named beneficiaries. You may own a house, a car, and furniture, so you'll want to decide who should have the property in the event of your death. You'll also need to appoint an executor, the person who will administer your estate. You may have jewelry or other personal items you want to pass along to a certain child.

You may need to name a guardian who can be appointed to take care of your children. If the other parent of the children is fit, he or she will probably get custody. If the other parent is not living or is unfit, name someone you trust to care for your children. If you don't designate who you want as a guardian, the court will appoint someone.

diagram depicting a living trust


You need life insurance to provide for the needs of your children. Don't name minor children as beneficiaries. A court will appoint someone over the child's money. Name someone who will look out for your children's interest. You can name a trust, but you'll need to discuss the tax and legal issues with an attorney. The same principles apply to your retirement accounts.

Durable Power of Attorney

You need a durable power of attorney that takes effect if you're incapacitated. Name someone you trust to look out for your financial needs and the needs of your children.

Power of Attorney for Health Care

You need a power of attorney for health care in case you're involved in an accident or become too ill to make your own health care decisions. You set out your wishes for what actions should be taken to prolong your life and at what point these efforts should cease. You designate who you want to make your health care decisions. That person must follow the wishes you set forth in the document.


Have your documents in a safe place. You can write down account numbers to make things easier after your death or incapacity. Make a list of your passwords to your digital accounts, like your bank accounts and your Facebook account, so someone can get access to them.

An attorney at Winston Law Center will discuss your estate plan with you and execute the documents you need. Call now and get the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children will be taken care of should you die or become incapacitated.

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