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Estate planning considerations for single parents

Single parents in New York may need to create an estate plan that ensures that their minor children are cared for if anything happens to them. Even if the child's other parent is alive and would most likely take custody of the child, parents should still name alternate guardians in the estate plan in case there is some reason the other parent cannot step in.

Single parents with minor children should consider a number of questions when it comes to preparing the plan. This includes who the parent would want to have visitation rights and who should be able to make health care decisions. They should also create a trust for their minor children, which will require a trustee. Any of the parent's assets, including a retirement account, life insurance and any settlement from a claim related to the parent's death can go into the trust. The trust should say what the funds will be used for and how much control the child will have, if any, over how the funds are spent.

A parent can also make other specifications in the trust about how the child is raised, such as what kind of activities the child will participate in. Not every provision of this nature is necessarily enforceable, but it will give surviving family members a sense of the parent's wishes.

Estate planning with adult children can be just as if not more complex. A parent might still want to create a trust if the child is likely to be irresponsible with money. They may want a trustee to decide when funds can be distributed, or they might simply not want the child to get a lump sum while the child is still a young adult. Some parents specify a certain age when a child can receive an inheritance.

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