For some single parents of minor children in Virginia, the other parent may still be a part of the child’s life and may be the best choice for the child to live with if the custodial parent dies. However, single parents should still consider appointing alternate guardians in case the other parent cannot step into this position for some reason. This can be done as part of an overall estate plan.

Parents should establish a trust that can receive their assets and keep them for the children. This could include life insurance as well as any settlement that is related to the parent’s death. In addition to naming a guardian, a trust can specify how a parent wants this money spent. The parent may want it used for specific purposes, and some parents may want their children to have a greater amount of control over the assets than others.

Parents should also think about who they want to have visitation rights, who the children should spend holidays with and even what activities they want the child to participate in. All of this can be included in the trust. While not all of it is enforceable, it lets loved ones know what the parent’s wishes are.

As is the case with other elements of estate planning, parents can also talk to family members about these issues. Communicating with family members about an estate plan, whether or not children are involved, can help clarify the reasoning behind certain decisions. For example, a parent of adult children may decide to leave a larger inheritance for a child who has fewer assets and a lower-paying job on the grounds that the child needs the money more. This might also reduce the likelihood that a family member will challenge the estate plan.