Estate Planning for Singles
Whether widowed, divorced, or never married, estate planning is something that is rarely on the mind of a person who is legally single. Even when single people consider this process, many don’t believe that the value of their assets is worth the trouble of creating a will and think that just naming a beneficiary on their life insurance policy is enough. These perspectives are problematic at best and could lead to significant problems later, both for the single person and his or her family.
An estate plan is more than writing a will and distributing assets. It also addresses several other life planning and end of life issues. Below are 6 reasons why a single person needs an estate plan:
- You Need a Healthcare Proxy. You need a medical power of attorney, also known as a healthcare proxy, to designate someone who will make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so. For single people with adult children, one of these children could serve in this capacity. For singles without children, it is very important to ask a family member or friend to serve in this role so that you will receive the medical care of your choosing.
- You Need a Financial Power of Attorney. If you are incapacitated, this person will manage your financial affairs, including paying bills and accessing financial assets to pay for skilled nursing and long term care. Without legally designating someone to serve in this capacity, a court will need to appoint someone to serve in this capacity. This stranger may or may not follow your wishes.
- You Need to Care for the People you Love. Without a will, your assets are evenly distributed among your parents and siblings, and then to more distant relatives. If you have a partner that you are not married to, a close personal friend, a sibling you are closer to than others, or a charity you want to benefit, then you must have at least a valid will to assure the intended distribution of your estate assets. With an estate plan, you can also reduce the tax burden on your beneficiaries.
- You Have Consistency in your Estate. If you have life insurance or retirement accounts, then you have named beneficiaries who will inherit these funds in the event of your death. Trust estate or testate succession assets, on the other hand, are viewed as a piece of the entire estate and you can adjust your beneficiaries’ percentage share within the trust to truly reflect your wishes.
- You Avoid Joint Assets. Some singles put friends or loved ones as joint owners on bank accounts or property to make things easier in the event that they are incapacitated. However, this structure can lead to unintended and costly consequences. If the person who is joint on your accounts dies before you, their heirs may have a legitimate right to half of these assets. With an estate plan, you avoid this danger by making sure deeds and accounts are titled properly so that your interest flows to your family members or other intended beneficiaries.
- You can make a Plan for your Pets. If you own pets, you can make a plan for how they will be cared for or where they will go in the event of your death. Without this, it is possible that they will go to a shelter or pound rather than to a loving home that you have selected.
You deserve to have the peace of mind that comes from having a comprehensive estate plan.
At Life Counsel & Planning, we understand the estate planning needs of single adults and are ready to help you create a comprehensive plan that is right for you, including medical and financial powers of attorney. We will help you put all of these pieces together so that you can be confident that your wishes will be followed before and after your death. Call us at (904) 638-2345, or visit our website to schedule a free consultation.