Estate Planning Essentials

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Facts of life are not fun. Taxes, prostate exams and estate planning, some days it all feels the same. However, if you’re a single dad, whether as a widower, divorcee, or bachelor, the fact is that you need to deal with all three of those topics.

Facts of life are not fun. Taxes, prostate exams and estate planning, some days it all feels the same. However, if you’re a single dad, whether as a widower, divorcee, or bachelor, the fact is that you need to deal with all three of those topics.

As a single dad, you need to have your affairs in order. That means that you need to have your Living Trust updated and current, your Last Will updated and current, a Living Will that tells your family and doctors what your wishes are in regards to end of life care, and you probably should have a Durable Power of Attorney in place so that someone can take care of your bills, make decisions for you, and act in your best interests.

THE LIVING TRUST
Frequently when a man has gone through the trauma of a divorce the last thing he wants to do is deal with another attorney and redo his estate planning. This is not something to let sit. If your old estate planning documents name your ex, even though you are divorced, in some cases she could still be entitled to benefit from your passing, either as a trustee or as a beneficiary.

Additionally, if you have children, you many need to make provisions for someone to take control and safeguard their inheritance, particularly if they are minors and cannot legally act, or if they are immature people and having an older and wiser head might be a good idea.

In making a trust, there are several ‘positions’ that are played: the Trustor, the Trustee, a Guardian of the Person, a Guardian of the Estate, the Beneficiaries. A trustor is just the one or two people who are putting their money and property into the trust. The trustee is the person who will take responsibility for protecting the property and then distributing when a triggering event happens, such as death of a trustor or a beneficiary reaching a certain age.

Think of Guardians like parents. They are used mainly for minors. There are two aspects to a guardianship the actual care, housing, and feeding of the person, and the care and protection of the financial estate – the money, real estate and stocks that are owned by the person being cared for. For adults, we use the term Conservator – it’s the same concept as a guardian.

Then there’s the beneficiaries. These are the people you want to receive your money, property and hard earned assets. Generally this is a short list of your children, but more frequently than not, there’s something left in there dealing with the ex-wife. If she is named as the guardian for the kids, she’ll have access to financial records if you’re not careful.

THE LIVING WILL
This is a document that tells your family and doctors what you want done should you be unable to communicate your wishes. The most common example is you get in a car accident, and are in a coma – what doctors call a "persistent vegetative state." Some people want to know that their hard earned money wont be spent trying to keep them alive on respirators, others want to spend every last dime bringing them back. It’s all a personal decision and there are no right answers – it’s a question for what you want and believe.

THE LAST WILL
The last will is used like a catch-all exception. When someone has a Trust, the last will takes any items that were recently purchased and puts them in the Trust to be distributed according to what the trustor wanted. There is a person called the Executor who is responsible for making sure that the directions in the Last Will are followed – frequently this is still the ex-spouse unless it is changed.

THE DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
The Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) is important for many of us who are self-employed. It is used to allows someone else to take control of your business affairs and personal affairs quickly. There is no requirement that a court order be sought from a judge, once signed a Durable Power of Attorney allows the attorney to act on your behalf, which if something happens to you, you may need. This should also be reviewed and any prior DPA’s revoked, because if the Ex is still on there, she can continue to act, even though divorced.

CONCLUSION
There is a lot more to cover on this topic, but for now, remember that whether you’ve done some estate planning, or none, now is the time to review it or do it.

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”

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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children. RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”