If you know a single mom, you know a multitasking money-savvy person. Regardless of their income, education, or location, single moms have to make the most of their resources because they’re often the sole means of financial support for their children.
That’s why single moms have to be proactive about protecting the money they make and the assets they have. From prenups to car insurance for single mothers, these tips on protecting your wealth with marital agreements, insurance, and estate planning will help you be the boss of your assets.
What legal agreements protect assets?
There are many different types of legal documents designed to protect assets. Assets can be vulnerable to attack in divorces, in business, and at death.
To know which agreements you may need, think about where you are in life. Think about the assets you have as well as what you expect, or want, to have in the future.
If you’re building your boss empire, or just want to be smarter about wealth protection, here are a few legal agreements to consider.
There are legal agreements for every phase of marriage. Whether you’re getting married, already tied the knot, or heading separate ways because the marriage is done, there are marital agreements that can protect your assets at every phase.
Premarital agreements, commonly called prenups, are binding written contracts made between couples before they marry. It’s quite common for people to enter into prenups these days. People are marrying later or remarrying, and they may be bringing substantial assets into the marriage.
Single moms who are business owners or have significant assets should definitely consider having a prenup that makes sure those assets remain their sole property.
When negotiated fairly, premarital agreements are smart financial planning tools. For many couples, prenups reduce a lot of stress and strife by allowing them to sort out financial issues before the marriage.
If you’re already married, don’t think the marital agreement ship has sailed. Couples can enter into contracts post-marriage to handle a variety of financial issues or as part of estate planning.
Postnuptial agreements, or postnups, can classify and divide income, assets, and debts in the event of a legal separation, divorce, death, or other event such as infidelity.
Often, single moms are financially unstable because they went through a divorce. Divorces can leave a lot of moms with legal fees, marital debt, and even child support obligations.
If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to think realistically about your financial picture after the marriage. Make sure you communicate to your lawyer or the judge what your support needs are to protect your financial stability after the divorce.
If you’ve experienced some form of financial abuse in your marriage, that should be taken into consideration when dividing marital assets and awarding spousal support to remedy the negative financial impacts of being in an abusive marriage.
All the property you own at death has to go through a legal process called probate before any assets can be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. The probate court oversees the estate of a deceased person to ensure all debts are paid and all property is properly sold and distributed.
There are different types of estate planning agreements that can help make sure the people you want to inherit from your estate actually do so. Wills and trust agreements are two examples.
Single moms, in particular, should look into estate planning tools like wills and trusts if they want to ensure what their children inherit and the way those assets are managed.
A will is a written statement of how you want your property to be distributed at death.
Remarriage and having children from a remarriage can change the way a parent’s estate is distributed. Without a will, your state’s laws dictate who your beneficiaries will be and what share of your estate they will get.
Although laws vary from state to state, there are two main types of trusts: a living trust and a testamentary trust.
A living trust operates during your life to hold on to property in advance of your death to make sure it is protected, (not spent, lost, or stolen). Living trusts are private and the property placed in a living trust will not go through probate.
A testamentary trust is established in a will. Therefore, the property held in trust will go through probate and the assets will be a matter of public record. A common reason for setting up a testamentary trust is to financially protect and support minor children in the event of a parent’s death.
Living trusts aren’t the only financial tool that can be used to avoid probate. Life insurance policies are essentially agreements to pay the named beneficiary or beneficiaries a lump sum of money at your death.
That means life insurance assets generally don’t go through probate because they belong to the beneficiary, not the deceased person.
Single moms are a growing segment of the gig work and side-hustle population because it provides the flexibility to spend more time with their children. If you’re a mompreneur, whether you sell products or services, using the following agreements is a good business practice.
Two of the most common businesses for single moms are LLCs and partnerships. They are two very different kinds of businesses, so make sure you consult with legal experts to properly structure your company.
Operating agreements and partnership agreements are important because they outline ownership percentages, financial contributions and distributions, operational functions, and rules and regulations, among other things.
It’s important for moms in business with others to think about the impact another owner’s divorce would have on the business. Business owners need to know about divorce and how it impacts a company operationally and financially.
Whether you run a corporation or a partnership, make sure your ownership agreements have the right provisions to protect against third-party claims.
Ride sharing has been a great opportunity for many single moms to earn more income by driving their own cars. But, if you use your car for business, you need the right insurance to protect against liability for accidents transporting passengers.
Personal car insurance coverage has limits. It’s unlikely your personal policy covers ride sharing-related accidents as most plan exclude coverage for taxi, livery, and ride sharing services.
Business car insurance covers cars used for business and also covers employees who use their cars for your business.
The good news for single moms is that usually, car insurance is cheaper for women. That’s because female drivers are automatically classified as low-risk drivers by insurance companies.
Insurers will also consider age, driving record, credit score, type and cost of vehicle, where you live, and other factors when giving you a quote. They will certainly want to know if your vehicle is being primarily used for business purposes, and in particular, for ride sharing.
Single moms who are ride sharing drivers can’t use personal car insurance to cover accident claims while on the job. If you drive for a ridesharing company, talk with the company about auto insurance and review the independent contracting agreement to check your potential liability for car accidents.
Protecting assets is just as important as acquiring them, especially for single moms who may be the sole source of income for the family. It can be daunting to think about getting a lawyer, but the types of agreements we’ve discussed are relatively simple and charged on a flat fee basis, which helps single moms on a budget.
Lauren Blair writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She has over 25 years of experience in litigation.