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Estate Planning for Singles: Why You (Yes, You) Need an Estate Plan, Too
Estate planning is often discussed as something that married couples with families need. However, more and more people are choosing to stay single, which creates unique considerations in terms of estate planning. Being single, in fact, makes estate planning all the more important, as without a spouse to inherit money or property , great thought needs to be given to what will happen with your hard-earned assets. Furthermore, naming agents who can make medical and financial decisions for you should you become incapacitated is also incredibly important.
If a single person dies without a Will—what’s known as dying “intestate”—the State will decide what happens to their assets. Determining who will inherit their property is a complex process, and chances are that it will end up being passed along to someone who wouldn’t be the deceased’s first choice.
A Will is the centerpiece of an estate plan, and makes it possible for a person’s assets to be distributed as they see fit. For a single person, choosing who you want to benefit from your estate will avoid having your assets left to someone you might not even know. Your beneficiaries could include a partner, sibling, niece or nephew, close friend, charitable organization, pet trust (or their caretaker), or anyone else who means something to you.
Naming a Power of Attorney (POA) Agent who can make financial and medical decisions on your behalf is another important consideration that a single person should pay close attention to in estate planning. For financial decisions, many single people choose a family member or close friend. However, it is important to select someone you trust to keep up with your finances in addition to their own. Some people choose to name their CPA as their financial POA, but this is assuming their CPA is willing to accept this position. If you do not take care of these decisions while you have capacity, you could very well end up in a guardianship proceeding before the Probate Court with the Court appointing a perfect stranger to represent you.
Likewise, with medical decisions, if a POA Agent has not been named, a single person may have no control over who will represent them if they become temporarily or permanently incapacitated . Again, you could end up in a guardianship with the Court appointing a perfect stranger to serve as your Agent – this means that someone who does not understand you or your preferences will be making medical decisions for you. Naming an agent who will make medical decisions for you is a critical decision that must be made with care.
People arrive at their singleness in different ways, whether it’s through circumstance, widowhood, divorce, or simply choosing not to get married. Whatever the situation, there is no one estate planning solution that will work for every single person. Since estate planning can be a complex process, it is important to contact an estate planning attorney. A qualified attorney can ensure that all of your wishes are met when it comes your estate planning needs.
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