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Estate Planning for Single Moms

There is no type of person or family situation that can justify not having an estate plan.  Every adult should at least have a will and a power of attorney.  However, there are some classifications of people who are in urgent need of creating an estate plan if they haven’t already done so.  This segment includes single mothers.

Of course, all mothers want to make sure that if they meet an untimely death, their kids will be appropriately cared for.  But it can be surprising and even frightening for some single moms when they are faced with the idea that if they neglect to prepare proper estate planning documents, their children and the assets set aside for them could end up in the hands of the children’s father.  A surviving parent almost always has an automatic right to custody when the other parent dies.  So if a single mother dies, the father’s rights prevail unless he waives them, or a nominated guardian presents a compelling reason why the children should live with him or her instead.

In Pennsylvania, intestacy laws require that if an individual dies without a valid will or trust, his or her assets will transfer to the surviving spouse through the probate process.  However, if a single mother is not married and does not have a valid will or trust indicating otherwise, her children become the beneficiaries of her estate.  If her children are minors, the courts will likely determine them to be legally unable to manage or handle the money or property.  In that case, the father of the children could then have the opportunity to manage the assets on their behalf until they become adults at 18 years of age.

While a single mother may not be able to prevent her children’s father from having custody if she passes away, her estate plan can appoint someone else to manage her assets on behalf of the children during their childhood and even beyond.  This will limit the father’s access to her assets and property in a way that she deems appropriate while he is caring for the kids.  In order to accomplish this type of future childcare certainty, a single mother can establish a trust as part of her estate plan.

If you are a single mom, you need an estate plan.  Protect your children and their future by talking with a trusted estate planning attorney in Pittsburgh.  At Fingeret Law, we can help you put the proper estate planning documents in place so you can rest assured that your children will be taken care of even if you are unable to do so yourself.

To discuss your specific needs as a single parent, and to find out how our estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh can help you, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.