Whether you are married to your child(ren)’s other parent or not, the end of your relationship will result in various challenges for your family. For starters, you will likely have to work out a schedule for sharing parental responsibilities, clarify your coparenting financial obligations and set expectations related to your mutual decision making-authority.
In addition to addressing these concerns, you will also need to consider the estate planning implications of your changing relationship. These are just a few of the estate planning considerations related to your children that may you need to act on when you separate from their other parent.
You may need to change how you pass on their inheritance
Having your children listed as the main beneficiaries of your estate may seem like a common-sense choice, but it could lead to issues if anything were to happen to you while they are still minors. If their other parent assumes custody, they would also then have control over the inheritance you left for your children.
They could potentially use it for personal purposes and leave nothing for the children to receive when they turn 18 and have the authority to control their own inheritance. Moving the inheritance for the children into a trust is a means of protecting it from misuse by the other parents.
You may need to revisit your guardianship decisions
When you no longer live together or interact socially, the chances of you and the other parent dying at roughly the same time diminish substantially. The likelihood that the children will end up needing a guardian is lower when their parents live in separate households, but you cannot ignore the possibility that something could happen to you and to the other parent.
You may need to reconsider who you selected as a guardian given your changing family circumstances. You may also want to include alternate guardian options in case the person you initially choose is ultimately incapable of fulfilling their role.
As a parent, you need to think about what your children would require in that challenging situation and how you could help to provide that support for them. Updating your estate plan when your family situation evolves will give you peace of mind and ensure that sufficient safeguards for your children are in place at all times.