Maryland Will for Single Parents: What the Law States September 19th, 2016
Whether you’re divorced, you’ve always been single, or you’re in a committed relationship but not married: whenever children are involved, a will should be, too. A Maryland will for single parents is critical for several reasons. For the sake of having a clear example, let’s look at the issues an Maryland will for single parents can help address for a parent who is divorced.
- When one parent dies, the other parent gains custody of the children automatically, unless that other parent’s parental rights have been terminated or he or she is unable to be located. The other parent may consent to the appointment of a different guardian (or fail to object to the appointment), but he or she is presumed to be willing and able to make and carry out day-to-day child care decisions concerning your children. Please keep this in mind if you are remarried and your spouse has a parental-figure relationship with your child/children as well. For the sake of your children, work these issues out now with all potential guardians. And, to protect your children, you have the opportunity in your
- to name a successor guardian (for example, your current spouse) who will take over in the event the initial guardian cannot fulfill his or her role.
Inheritance: If you intend for your children to inherit everything you own, please make those wishes clear in last will. Otherwise, default laws kick in, and your children may not inherit as much as you intend, especially if your divorce isn’t finalized. If you own a significant amount of assets including investments, a retirement account and life insurance, it may be best to look into creating a trust for your children that puts restrictions on how and when the money can be spent. With a trust, you can also name a person (or people) responsible for administering it. That person does not necessarily need to be your children’s guardian, but imagine the complications you could cause the guardian if you do separate the two (having to ask for money on a regular basis, for instance). If you plan on naming separate people to fulfill these responsibilities, thoughtfully consider the pros and cons. Additionally, a property power of attorney and Maryland living trust can help you maintain control of your finances in a similar way if you are ever incapacitated (from serious injury or illness, for instance).
Grandparent visitation rights: Grandparent visitation has no legal place in an Maryland will for single parents, but it’s important to note as we discuss children, divorce, and estate planning. If you have any fears that your children may be kept from your family if something were to happen to you, make sure your parents/family are aware of their rights and talk to an attorney about the possibility of addressing it in your estate plan.
Of course, there are many other issues that single parents face and that can be covered in an Maryland will for single parents. If there are any others on your mind, please feel free comment here and open it up for discussion or contact us.