It was recently noted that African American women are the most educated of all demographic groups in the U.S.  Yassss, we are doing the dang on thang! However, as we strike out on entrepreneurial ventures, climb the corporate ladder, or just decide to define our lives on our own terms, many of us overlook the importance of having an estate plan.  This is not a good idea, especially if you’re a single parent.

Single, Foot Loose, and Fancy-Free

I recently asked my FB network to post their burning estate planning questions and one of my BAWSE single friends asked if she needs an estate plan.  My answer was a resounding YES!  A complete estate plan that at a minimum includes a will or living trust, durable power of attorney, and a health care directive is needed to provide instructions for how you want your hard earned assets handled after your death or should you become incapacitated.  As single ladies, we need to appoint someone who can step in and handle our affairs should we become seriously ill or disabled.  Many of us live in states far from family and depend on our sister circles for support.  But, how many of us have appointed someone that can step in and care for us in the event we aren’t able to care for ourselves?

Your mama and them won’t be able to access your accounts to make sure your bills are paid and you have the things you need without the proper documents in place. A Durable Power of Attorney empowers someone you appoint as your agent to handle your affairs if you can’t.   New HIPPA laws also make it more difficult for medical professionals to share information with others.  A Health Care Directive or Living Will allows you to appoint an agent that can assist in making health care decisions.  These documents also give advanced instructions on the type of care you wish to receive.

Super Single Moms

If you’re a single mom that has not yet created an estate plan, we need to have a serious talk. You’ve probably told yourself that if something happens to me, my mother or my child’s father will step in.  LeSigh! I wish it was that simple.  As discussed above, you need documents in place for a loved one to be able to step into your shoes and handle your affairs.  Naming someone a godparent is not the same as naming a legal guardian. Things that you take for granted like enrolling a child in school or getting medical treatment can bbe problematic if a guardian has not been appointed.

More importantly, most states require some type of court proceeding before someone is appointed legal guardian.  Without a Guardianship Plan, the court may not take your wishes into account. Even if a loved ones assumes guardianship of your children, they will not automatically assume control of any insurance policies, bank accounts, etc., that you have put in place for the benefit of your children.  Courts will appoint a guardian of property or the estate to oversee the inheritance.  Yes, you read that right.  If you have not created a Guardianship Plan, there will be a lengthy and expensive court proceeding to determine who will have control of the assets you have put in place.  This guardianship proceeding is required if you become incapacitated or die.

Don’t Panic. Empower Yourself!

If you’re a single lady that’s doing it and doing it well, make sure all of the assets you have worked so hard for are accounted for and create a plan that provides for your loved ones. Create an estate plan and leave a lasting legacy to support the loved ones and institutions that are important to you. 

If you’re a Single Super Mom, you probably know who you want to care for children and how you want your children to be cared for.  The next step is to create an estate plan that provides your instructions to the person(s) you want to be their guardian(s).  Create an estate plan that specifies your wishes, provides for your children and gives you some peace of mind.

A little bit of planning goes a long way.  Just like purchasing a car insurance after you have an accident isn’t wise, it is not wise to wait until you are facing a crisis to create an estate plan.  Contact Attorney Gina Smith to take advantage of the Single Ladies estate plan package – gmsmith@jamiilaw.com or 312.868.0781.

Disclaimer: All content provided is brief general information and not intended as legal advice. Always consult an attorney before acting. Please read full disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

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