Much of what is written about estate planning focuses on complex estates; usually those of married couples. However, a single person’s estate is just as important – sometimes even more important as you only have one chance to make sure everything is done right. This is highlighted in a Forbes article called “Estate Planning for Single People.”
First things first, there are basic essentials that a single person’s estate plan will require. A will is the first necessary component as it ensures that the state will not determine who will receive your hard earned assets. A will allows you to distribute assets to the persons or charities that you desire, appoint guardians for minor children, choose an executor to guide your estate through probate and make sure that your assets are distributed as you prefer. In drafting your will, one of the most important decisions you make is who to appoint as executor. Be sure to pick someone trustworthy and organized.
The next essential component to every estate plan is a durable power of attorney. While much of estate planning is for the distribution of assets after death, it is also critical to include planning in case you can no longer make decisions for yourself. A durable power of attorney appoints someone to make financial decisions such as paying your bills if you are declared incapacitated. A power of attorney is usually set up so that the spouse is appointed as agent. However, a single person much choose a trusted relative or friend who is willing. It is also a very important to have a power of attorney for health care so that someone can be appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf.
As a single person, it is important to keep your beneficiaries designations updated on your life insurance, annuity and IRA or 401K accounts.
Estate planning for a single person is not as simple as many believe. In fact, it can at times be more complex than planning for a married couple. Meet with a qualified elder law attorney to ensure that your estate is in order.