When we typically think of estate planning, we see grandma and grandpa putting together a will and possibly setting up some trusts for the following generations. It’s all about providing for our offspring, right?
Not necessarily. Even if you are single and/or have no children, a wills and estates lawyer should still be in your plans. Why? Because estate planning is really about YOU!
While it is absolutely advisable for married people or those with children to work with a wills and trusts lawyer, it is actually just as important for single adults, as well.
In fact, there are times when it’s almost more important for single adults. After all, when a married person suffers a major illness, it’s usually pretty clear who will take on medical and financial responsibility. The water gets a bit murkier for single adults.
If you were to suddenly become incapacitated, who would make your medical decisions for you? If you haven’t worked with an estate planning attorney, the answer to this question becomes quite complicated. Possibly your parents would be called in to determine how your medical care should proceed. Maybe it would be a sibling. Most likely, it would not be your best friend or your significant other or whomever you would choose. Even if your parents or sibling would be your first choice, that doesn’t mean that the courts would agree without having your express wishes legally documented.
And what about your finances? If you are unable to take care of your finances for a period of time, who do you think will do so? The answer to that is: whomever the courts say. Again, it could be a parent, a sibling, some other relative, or even a court-appointed individual.
Finally, what will become of your things if you should unexpectedly pass away? Who would have legal rights to your belongings, to your home, to your pets? You may think you know the answers, but without clearly outlining your wishes with a wills and trusts attorney, you have very little control over the matter.
Single adults without children does not need to worry about creating guardianships and trusts to provide for his or her offspring, but it’s certainly a good idea to look out for yourself. Some of the basic legal documents any single person should have include:
- A will to determine what will become of your assets in the event of your death.
- A power of attorney for healthcare (or Advance Health Care Directive) to name the person you want making medical decisions on your behalf.
- A living will to clearly explain your wishes regarding medical procedures and life support.
- A power of attorney for financial matters to name the person you feel should be responsible for your money if you are incapacitated.
- A revocable living trust to centralize management of assets if you become incapacitated and keep your assets out of probate if you should pass away.
These five documents are crucial in ensuring that your wishes are met and that you have control over your future. A wills and trusts attorney can easily get you on the path to having these affairs in order.
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About Nicole K. White
After losing a close relative, Nicole witnessed the devastation, enormous expense and chaos caused by not having a simple estate plan. It is Nicole’s mission to educate parents, especially single parents, about protecting themselves, their families, minor children, and assets with comprehensive Estate Planning.