Mon, August 05, 2013
Single people may not think that they need an estate plan, but if you have assets, you should consider developing one.
Even those who are single may have assets that will need to be disposed of at their death, and some elements of estate planning may be needed even before you die. Consider the following issues:
IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans, and life insurance policies all require the identification of beneficiaries. These assets normally pass directly to the designated beneficiaries without the use of a will. The newly-single (those recently divorced or widowed) may need to re-examine their beneficiary designations to make sure that they are still appropriate.
Health Care Instructions
In many states, it’s a good idea to complete a living will or healthcare declaration in order to make your wishes known concerning medical treatments intended to prolong life. Alternatively, or in conjunction with these, an advance health care directive (“health care proxy”) enables you to appoint a person authorized to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Having a will ensures that your property will be distributed according to your wishes. In some states, the absence of a will makes it more difficult for your survivors to carry out your wishes.
Revocable Living Trust
While not everyone needs a revocable living trust, it can be a useful tool that allows you to provide for the possibility that you become incapacitated in the future. While you are alive, this type of trust can allow you to use the assets in it as you see fit. It can provide for the possibility that you become mentally incompetent, in which case a trustee named by you can manage the funds in the trust. Finally, when you die, a designated trustee can settle your debts and distribute the assets according to your instructions. The use of a revocable living trust also makes it possible to avoid the probate process.
As always, you should make legal decisions based on the advice of a qualified attorney knows your specific situation. This information is provided only to illustrate the potential usefulness of proper estate planning