If you are a single parent, it is critical that you create a comprehensive plan that will protect your children should the unthinkable happen to you. If you are anything like most single parents, the last thing you would ever want is for your ex­-spouse to be able to make sole decisions about who should raise your children if something happens to you or for that person to get control of your money.

If your child’s other biological parent is living and you share custody, your children will automatically be raised by the surviving parent, unless there is some clear reason why that should not happen. There is nothing you can do about this other than stay alive at all costs!

Unfortunately, you don’t have control over such things.  So, the next best thing is to name your own guardians and leave instructions so that if something happens to both parents, your wishes for the care of your children will be known.

Also, it is crucial to nominate first responders and provide clear instructions so that there will never be a question as to whether your children should be taken into child protective services if something happens to you.

Finally, if you are a single parent and your child’s other parent is living, you must speak with an attorney about protecting the assets you leave for your children, especially if the thought of your ex handling the assets you leave behind for your children makes you shudder.

If you are parenting your children with a partner who is not biologically related to your children, creating a comprehensive plan that protects your kids is vital because you want to ensure that your partner will be able to care for your child if something happens to you. In addition, you will want to have a “Medical Power of Attorney” giving your partner authority to make medical decisions for your child if you are unavailable.

Do not make the mistake of failing to plan just because your children would automatically go to their other parent in the event of your death or incapacity. It’s just the opposite: you have even more of a need to plan -you want your wishes for your children to always be known and never forgotten.

If you are a single parent raising your children alone, you can complete your own plan, and sign documents alone.  If you are on friendly terms with your children’s other biological parent, then you and your partner/ex should each complete your own plan and sign documents that will provide for the same outcomes if something should happen to you both.