What Florida Estate Planning Do I Need as a Single Parent?
Everyone needs an estate plan. But if you are a single parent with minor children, it is especially critical to have all of your legal affairs in order should the worst occur. If your children’s other parent is already deceased or no longer part of their lives, you need to make sure that they will be provided for if you die or become incapacitated before they reach the age of legal adulthood in Florida.
What Steps Do I Need to Take Now?
First, you need to execute a last will and testament. Some people think a will is unnecessary if they do not own a home or significant assets. But a will is not just about deciding who gets your property. It also nominates an executor to manage those assets for the benefit of your children or other beneficiaries. If you do not have a will, the court will name someone for you, and that may be a relative you do not trust or a person who does not have your children’s best interests at heart.
Second, in addition to a will you should consider creating a revocable living trust. A trust accomplishes many of the same goals as a will–distributing your assets, naming someone to oversee your affairs–but bypasses the formal probate process. In other words, when you die or become incapacitated, a successor trustee can immediately step in and manage your property for your children’s benefit without first obtaining a court order.
Third, you must name a “preneed guardian” for your minor children. This is a person you nominate to assume legal custody of your children in the event of your death or incapacity. Under Florida law, a parent’s declaration naming a preneed guardian “constitutes a rebuttable presumption” that person should be appointed by the court. However, only a judge can name a guardian and may determine the person you name is not qualified.
Fourth, you should always have a valid power of attorney. This is a document authorizing someone to act on your behalf with respect to financial matters. For instance, if you are the sole authorized owner of your bank account, your children will not be able to access those funds if you are incapacitated. But with a power of attorney, an agent you name can access your accounts and ensure your children can benefit from those assets.
Finally, make sure any beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts or life insurance policies are in order. These designations override any contrary terms of your will and trust. And while you can name your minor children as beneficiaries, it will be necessary to appoint a guardian to manage those assets until your children turn 18.
Get Help Making a Florida Estate Plan Today
These are just some of the estate planning issues that single parents–and honestly, all parents–need to think about before it is too late. A qualified Fort Myers estate planning lawyer can guide you through this process and help you rest easy knowing that your children will be taken care of if you are no longer around. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529, to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.