Author Topic: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?  (Read 1506 times)

SaucyAussie

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Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« on: April 30, 2019, 10:40:19 AM »
I'm assuming the answer is yes, and I assume I need a trust, but what kind?

My situation:
Two 13YO kids, split custody with ex-wife (who is broke).
Assets: $400K in retirement accounts, with kids as beneficiaries.  $100K home equity.

What happens to all that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow?

hdatontodo

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 01:23:29 PM »
I am only guessing the court would appoint a trustee to watch over the money until the kids are of age.

I am interested in reading better answers here myself.

I think you would need to set up a trust, have someone to manage it, and to put the assets in the trust or have the trust be the beneficiary of your accounts.

Also put aside money to pay for your final expenses.

Check2400

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 02:11:59 PM »
There is a much better than likely chance that if you die tomorrow, your assets go to your children, but those assets are managed by their mother. 

So every day you go by without a will is another day you are trusting your children's mother to manage the money you want to leave your children and not blow it on a new house/vacation/car 'for the kids.'

I don't know if you need a formal trust or just have a constructive trust in the will (appointing a trusted relative to manage the funds until a certain age--does not have to be 18) but you absolutely need a will.

Also, if your kids get the house, they probably can't sell it until they are 18, so who is going to pay the mortgage and taxes until then?

Easily the best 1000-1500 in insurance you can purchase.  Do it today. 


GizmoTX

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 05:12:49 PM »
You do need a will. The kids' funds must be managed by a trust, but you can & should have your will establish it. Name at least 3 trustees in succession, in case your first choice cannot serve.  Also name at least 3 executors in succession, for the same reason. Ask your lawyer about guardians, in case your ex cannot serve. They do not have to be, & probably should not be, the same as your trustee. You may want the trust to pay your guardian some amount so that your kids are properly cared for. Do not require the trust to make regular beneficiary payments; instead, direct your trustee to release funds for their support & health as well as education, as needed, in his/her judgment. Depending upon a court to do all this is expensive, time consuming, & very likely to end up being not what you'd want.
You should also draw up power of attorney documents for health & financial decisions for you if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Name at least 3 persons in succession for each.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2019, 04:03:15 AM »
You do need a will. The kids' funds must be managed by a trust, but you can & should have your will establish it. Name at least 3 trustees in succession, in case your first choice cannot serve.  Also name at least 3 executors in succession, for the same reason. Ask your lawyer about guardians, in case your ex cannot serve. They do not have to be, & probably should not be, the same as your trustee. You may want the trust to pay your guardian some amount so that your kids are properly cared for. Do not require the trust to make regular beneficiary payments; instead, direct your trustee to release funds for their support & health as well as education, as needed, in his/her judgment. Depending upon a court to do all this is expensive, time consuming, & very likely to end up being not what you'd want.
You should also draw up power of attorney documents for health & financial decisions for you if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Name at least 3 persons in succession for each.

+1000

Iím copying this advice for myself, thank you! And I have a will, and planning on being a single parent.

SaucyAussie

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2019, 06:22:16 AM »
You do need a will. The kids' funds must be managed by a trust, but you can & should have your will establish it. Name at least 3 trustees in succession, in case your first choice cannot serve.  Also name at least 3 executors in succession, for the same reason. Ask your lawyer about guardians, in case your ex cannot serve. They do not have to be, & probably should not be, the same as your trustee. You may want the trust to pay your guardian some amount so that your kids are properly cared for. Do not require the trust to make regular beneficiary payments; instead, direct your trustee to release funds for their support & health as well as education, as needed, in his/her judgment. Depending upon a court to do all this is expensive, time consuming, & very likely to end up being not what you'd want.
You should also draw up power of attorney documents for health & financial decisions for you if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Name at least 3 persons in succession for each.

Thank you so much!  It's so hard to get clear and concise information on this issue, I wish your post could be stickied.

LiveLean

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2019, 11:04:45 AM »
I guess I really need to wear my glasses more. I thought this thread was about whether to have a gaming system (Wii), which isn't a good call for single or married parents.

SaucyAussie

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2019, 06:46:40 AM »
You do need a will. The kids' funds must be managed by a trust, but you can & should have your will establish it. Name at least 3 trustees in succession, in case your first choice cannot serve.  Also name at least 3 executors in succession, for the same reason. Ask your lawyer about guardians, in case your ex cannot serve. They do not have to be, & probably should not be, the same as your trustee. You may want the trust to pay your guardian some amount so that your kids are properly cared for. Do not require the trust to make regular beneficiary payments; instead, direct your trustee to release funds for their support & health as well as education, as needed, in his/her judgment. Depending upon a court to do all this is expensive, time consuming, & very likely to end up being not what you'd want.
You should also draw up power of attorney documents for health & financial decisions for you if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Name at least 3 persons in succession for each.

Follow up question on this - let's say I set up my will to establish a trust - who do I list as my beneficiaries on 401k, life insurance, etc?

cchrissyy

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Re: Single Parent - Do I Need a Will?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2019, 10:02:41 AM »
I don't know if this varies by state, but I'll answer for my location.

The lawyer sets up your trust at the same time you make the will. That trust can be empty while you're alive, but it exists legally so you make it the beneficiary of your life insurance, your bank accounts, etc. you set up your real estate, if any, to transfer to the trust upon your death.  The only thing you don't do that to is IRAs. Those beneficiaries are still the kids names.

The way my lawyer explained it, legally it as as if everything I own is mine while I'm alive and then, at the exact moment before I get hit by a truck, time pauses, and legally everything jumps into the trust and is controlled and distributed according to my trust's instructions.


edit to add - as a single parent, you also absolutely need to do the right paperwork for your medical decision-making and please don't just think about a will but also handle all the legal, financial, custody, etc issues for if you become incapacitated but still alive.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 11:24:28 AM by cchrissyy »