Estate planning isn’t just for married couples – there are several reasons why it is also essential for single people. With more people living single than ever before (approximately 50 percent of Americans age 15 and older), it is important to begin considering how an estate plan can benefit you and your loved ones.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, single people face a number of unique issues when it comes to estate planning that require the guidance of an experienced attorney. Below is a brief summary of some of what your lawyer can help you address:
- Beneficiaries. Retirement plans and other types of accounts require account holders to designate a beneficiary upon enrollment. In the event of the account holder’s death, the account will be passed on to this beneficiary – even if a different beneficiary was named in the decedent’s will. If you were previously married, it is important to review your beneficiaries on your accounts to ensure that they won’t be given to former spouses against your wishes.
- Heirs. Assets typically pass to a person’s spouse when he or she passes away. For single people, the chain of succession starts with children (if any), and is then followed by parents, siblings, or other relatives. If the single person does not have any living relatives, their assets may end up becoming the property of the state. In order to ensure that your loved ones are provided for in a manner of your choosing, it is essential to create a will and/or an irrevocable trust that states specifically how your assets are to be distributed upon your passing.
- Decision makers. It is important for single people to designate a trusted family member or friend to make decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated due to a medical event or other emergency. If you don’t create these directives yourself, you could end up having your medical care determined by distant relatives or strangers appointed by the state. To avoid this, consider creating an advance health care directive, signing a general power of attorney, and creating a HIPAA authorization, all of which will allow a person of your choosing to make medical and financial decisions if you ever need it.
There are many things to consider when it comes to estate planning. Since it can get rather complex, it is a good idea to team up with an Omaha estate planning attorney as soon as possible. At Carlson & Burnett, we have helped countless people create comprehensive estate plans that meet their individual needs and goals. Our team’s mission is to help you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything is taken care of.
We encourage you to schedule a case evaluation with our team. Call us at (402) 810-8611, or fill out an online case evaluation form.