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How to Plan Your Estate When You are a Single Parent

There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a parent and more so if a person is a single parent. One would constantly worry about what would happen to their children if they unexpectedly pass away and who would take care of them.

Thoughtful estate planning is crucial for parents of all kinds. However, for single parents, an extensive and legally compliant estate plan is essential to ensure that their plans and wishes with regard to their estate are thoroughly carried out.

Prepare Wills

Estate planning for a single parent, in a lot of ways, is similar to the estate planning for married parents.

All parents should have a valid will for the disposal of their property.

A will can contain the financial plan for the care of their children and the name the legal guardian or guardians that they wish to designate to look after their children.

The main difference between these two types of parents when it comes to wills is the issue whether the surviving parent of the child will be the one responsible for him or her.

In any case, If any parent does not have a will, the estate will be divided and distributed according to the plan of the state.

Financial Arrangements

When an inheritance is likely, distributing one’s assets by way of a traditional will may not be the best option for a single parent. In these cases, the ability of the children to manage their inheritance responsibly might be concern of most parents.

There should be a revocable living trust that holds assets which will be under the control of a person called the trustee.

The trustee is designated by the parent. He or she has the duty to hold the inheritance in trust for the benefit of the child.

One of the advantage of trust is it allows the parent to have restrictions on the distribution of the children’s inheritance such as setting a portion of the assets that will be released to the children when they have reached certain ages.

Custody or Guardianship

When the custodial parent dies and the non-custodial parent is still living, the custody over the child will be presumed transferred to the surviving parent. This applies in situations where the parents were divorced or legally separated. This trumps any guardianship assignment made by the deceased parent.

Consanguinity generally trumps any other relation or designation as far as the law is concerned. The exception to this general rule is when the surviving parent is unable, unfit, or unwilling to care for the child.

The standard followed in cases involving child custody or guardianship is the best interest of the child.

An estate plan must include rulings by the court or any other regarding the other parent’s fitness. Waiver of the non-custodial parent of his or her parental rights must also be included in the documentation


Single parents should also have prepare an estate plan in the event that they become disabled or incapable of taking care of their children.

This plan must include a living will and a good medical power of attorney, for the facilitation of medical decisions. The plan must also include powers of attorney for the purpose of handling financial arrangements for both the parent who is incapacitated and the children. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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