Many people assume that estate planning is primarily for married couples, but the truth of the matter is that estate planning is just as important for a single person as it is for a married couple. Whether a person is single because they are divorced, widowed, or have never been married, and whether they have children or not, they need to put the right plans in place for themselves.
Taking Care of You and your Needs
One of the most often overlooked issues in estate planning (but one of the most important, especially for single people), is having a plan in place in case you become incapacitated. That includes a General Durable Power of Attorney for managing your property and financial affairs, as well as a Health Care Power of Attorney for managing your health care. As a single person, having someone who is ready and willing to step in and take care of you and your financial or health care issues is critical. Depending on your personal situation, the person/persons you may choose could be your parents, your adult children, siblings, or close friends.
A Plan for your Property
Of course, every good estate plan needs to include a plan for what happens with your property when you pass away. This plan will need to address at least two primary issues: (1) who will be in charge of handling your estate (your Executor or Trustee), and (2) who will receive your property. If you have minor children, then your plan also needs to address who would be named to care for your children if you pass away before they become adults.
For the “who will be in charge of handling your estate” question, you may choose the same people you choose for your lifetime helpers, or you may choose different people.
For the “who will receive your property” question, your answer will be impacted greatly by whether or not you have children. If you have children, then you might leave all of your property to them. If you don’t have children, then you might name your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, or charities as your beneficiaries.
Sitting down with an experienced estate attorney to help you understand the issues and your options as a single person can help you throughout the process.