Aug 17, 2023
Single? Here’s an Estate Planning Approach for You
We believe anyone who wants a lasting say in decisions about their health care, finances and legacy should have an estate plan. Here are some specific estate planning considerations for those who are currently single.
One of the most common misconceptions surrounding estate planning is that this type of planning is only necessary for complex financial situations, ultra-high net worth individuals and married couples with children.
According to the Pew Research Center, 25% of 40-year-olds in the United States have never been married. This is a drastic increase from 20% in 2010 and just 6% in 1980. Not only are we seeing a rapid increase in the number of individuals who never marry, but also an increase in the age at which people are getting married.
With the rapid growth in the number of individuals who remain single, it’s never been more important to discuss estate planning for this group.
A comprehensive estate plan doesn’t just direct how your assets will be distributed when you pass away; it also determines what happens and who will make decisions in the event you become incapacitated. Regardless of net worth or marital status, having a sound estate plan will allow you to not only have control over your assets but to care for your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are carried out even after you are gone.
Let’s take a look at a few items that we believe are needed for a comprehensive estate plan, especially for single individuals.
- Last will and testament. We believe one of the most foundational steps of an estate plan is having a will drafted. This document contains your direct wishes for your assets and property. Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to state laws and could very well be distributed in a manner that does not align with your wishes.
- Health care proxy and power of attorney. These two documents are important for all individuals. They appoint a proxy or “agent” to express your wishes if you become incapacitated or unable to make these decisions for yourself. A health care proxy, also known as a durable medical power of attorney, is a document that appoints someone to make medical and health care decisions for you if you are unable to, whereas a power of attorney will describe what types of decisions the agent can make regarding your financial affairs and property.
- Designating beneficiaries. As a single individual, we believe this is one of the most important steps you can take in developing your estate plan. Designating beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other investment accounts bypasses the potentially costly and time-consuming probate process in court and allows your assets to pass directly to the individuals or organizations of your choice.
- Living will and advance health care directive. A living will and an advance health care directive are written legal instructions that express your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Even if you are still young, planning ahead can help ensure that you get the medical care you want if something goes wrong. It can also reduce disagreements or confusion for your loved ones regarding the choices that should be made on your behalf.
If you are among the growing number of single Americans, it has never been more important to develop an estate plan. We believe that it is wise to work with a professional wealth advisor and estate planning attorney to create your plan, protect your assets, ensure that your wishes are honored and establish a solid foundation for the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Klinger, CFP®, CRPC®
Mike is responsible for analyzing the client’s financial picture, preparing recommendations, and supporting Wealth Advisors in our development of strategies to help clients reach their goals. He holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, as well as Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ designation. Mike attended Drew University, earning his degree in Business Studies while competing for the men’s basketball team. Following graduation Mike spent two years in Europe playing basketball professionally, while earning his master’s degree in Business from the Institute of Technology, Carlow.
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