It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for married couples, but this is not the case. We live in a time where more people are single (never married, divorced, or widowed), and it is just as important for them to ensure that their decision making and assets end up in the hands of loved ones and relatives that they choose.
- Current Beneficiaries: Usually it is less complicated to plan where assets go when a married person dies; typically it is passed to their spouse. However, when a single person dies they may not have any children, or living relatives, and their assets can end up with the state. It is important for single people to establish preferred people and/or organizations in a Trust that specifically states where they want their assets to be appropriated.
- Beneficiaries upon a life event: If someone is newly single, or widowed, it is important that they re-evaluate their Trust so that they make sure that when they pass, their assets will not go to a former spouse, or other previously chosen beneficiaries. Though this may not always be the case, if you or someone you know needs to create or change the designated beneficiaries in their Trust, don’t wait till it is too late.
- Decision Makers: Additionally, in the event that someone who is single is left incapacitated, it is necessary that they designate someone to make health choices on their behalf. Without proper designation, those extremely important decisions could fall into the hands of distant relatives, or strangers. Single people should make sure to sign a General Power of Attorney, an Advanced Health Care Directive, and a Nomination of Conservator to look after them and their assets if they become unable to make decisions for themselves.
Regardless if you’ve never been married, are recently divorced, or are widowed; it is valuable to look into Estate Planning and Trusts sooner than later. It would be a shame to see all of your decisions and assets being designated to persons not of your choosing.