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Single parents can benefit from even a simple estate plan

Parents typically have just about anything but free time on their hands. This may be even more true for single parents in New Jersey. While it's understandable that some single parents feel as though they don't have a spare second to consider what might occur should anything happen to them, it's actually critically important that they give this considerable thought. When an individual is the only parent a child knows, even a simple estate plan can help protect his or her future.

Perhaps the most simple document that a parent can execute is a will. With a will, an estate will be distributed according to the terms outlined within the document. Without a will, who gets what will be up to the state, and it's possible that a child may not come out on top. Within a will, a parent can also name a legal guardian for a child in the event that the worst should happen. This person can be different than the one chosen to handle a child's inheritance.

It's not just a child's inheritance that will need handling. Bills, bank accounts and other financial accounts baring a parent's name will need to be handled accordingly. This can be particularly important if a parent intends for a guardian to move into the home with the child, which will require that the mortgage or rent payments are made and that the lights remain on. This can be accomplished by naming a person in a durable financial power of attorney, giving them the legal right to take control of necessary financial matters. 

When a single parent is the only person responsible for the life and care of a child, it can be difficult to ever imagine not being there. However, it is still important to plan for an unexpected tragedy, as leaving a child without a plan in place can result in mismanagement of a child's inheritance or the wrong guardian being appointed. While there are other documents that may cover a more thorough estate plan for New Jersey residents, for those parents who feel as though they are too busy to stop for even a moment, even a simple estate plan can make sure that a child is still cared for long after his or her parents are gone.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning and the Single Parent", Alexandra Smyser, Dec. 16, 2015

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