Divorced or unmarried Texas fathers can face great challenges in winning custody or visitation rights to their children, but one important duty that should not be neglected is preparing for their children’s future. Even a father who has not married his children’s mother or has divorced from her still retains the right to leave an inheritance to his offspring through a will, or see to it that his children receive financial benefits in the event he passes away.
The American Bar Association points out how single parents estranged from a spouse may still prepare an inheritance for their children. First, fathers should name their children as beneficiaries on their assets. Should a father pass away, his offspring can receive money from such assets as retirement accounts, payable on death bank accounts, 401(k)s, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). These beneficiary arrangements should be listed in writing, so any father who makes these changes should receive paperwork that confirms these arrangements. Additionally, a father should make sure that his children are beneficiaries under his life insurance policy.
Ideally, fathers would be able to coordinate their efforts with the mother of their children, but in some cases the relationship is too frayed for such coordination to take place. This is why fathers should take great care in storing personal and legal papers. They should be placed in a location where the other parent cannot have access to them, as the papers could be stolen or outright destroyed.
A father with minor children should also designate somebody to act as the children’s guardian if the father dies before they become legal adults. Be aware that the surviving parent will claim a first right of custody, so it is likely the other parent, unless that parent is unfit, will end up with custody. However, in the event the other parent refuses custody or otherwise cannot take custody, it is important to name somebody trustworthy as a guardian, or a court will choose somebody for you.
However, what if a father experiences an accident or a sudden medical problem that disables him and leaves him unable to make important financial decisions? In this case, a father should grant somebody a power of attorney to make those decisions for him. A power of attorney can go to anyone the father trusts, including his grown children. If the father granted a power of attorney before he divorced, he should revoke that power in order to establish a new one. According to Findlaw, many married couples actually name each other as a power of attorney, so divorced fathers should be cautious that they did not unintentionally leave their ex-spouse a way to access their finances and assets.