If You are Single and Don’t Have an Estate Plan

If You are Single and Don’t Have an Estate Plan, You Are Not in Control

 If you are single, having an estate plan may be even more important than if you’re married.   Why?

  • If you’re single, you don’t have a built in legal backup plan like married couples do.
  • If you want to control what happens to you, your assets, and your children, you must have an up-to-date estate plan that works.

If you’re wondering what we mean, please allow us to explain.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the legal counseling, decision-making, and documentation of those decisions in legal documents.

  • Your estate plan documents your instructions, which are effective should you become incapacitated and when you die.
  • Your estate plan lets trusted helpers and the court know what you want, when you want it, and how you want your health care, financial matters, assets, pets, and children to be handled.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

If you are under the age of 18, you are covered by your parents’ estate plan.  If you are age 18 years of age or older, you need your own estate plan, assuming you want to remain in control or if you care about anyone you would leave behind.

If you don’t have your own estate plan, the State of New Jersey has one for you – and it’s not likely what you’d want.

How to Determine Whether You Need an Estate Plan?

If you answer any of these questions in the affirmative, you need an estate plan:

  • Do you want to decide who makes health care decisions for you if you cannot make them fore yourself?
  • Do you want to choose who raises your minor child should you die?
  • Do you want to decide whether you’re hooked up to life support machines or not?
  • Do you care what happens to your pets if you get sick or die?
  • Do you care who inherits your assets?
  • Do you care whether you receive long-term care at home or in a nursing home?
  • Do you want to leave a legacy?
  • Do you want to minimize taxes and legal fees?
  • Do you want to keep your financial affairs and beneficiary information private?

Have you said, “yes” to any of these questions?  If so, you need an estate plan; please read on.

As a Single Individual, What Kind of Estate Plan Do I Need?

All single individuals need a basic estate plan.  Whether you need more than just the basics depends upon your goals, finances, assets, health, and family situation. A “basic” estate plan typically includes a will, general power of attorney, health care power of attorney, HIPAA release, living will, and organ donation authorization.

What Other Estate Planning Protections are Available for Single People?

  • Some pet owners choose to have a pet trust.
  • Some people with a state or federally taxable estate or those who wish to avoid probate, keep their finances and beneficiary information private, or protect beneficiary inheritances from lawsuits and divorce, choose to have a revocable living trust.
  • Some people with charitable goals and state or federally taxable estates include a life insurance trust or a charitable trust in their estate plan.
  • Folks who wish to leave a legacy often use their estate plan to benefit charities, leave love letters and personal items to loved ones, or continue a family tradition such as a vacation home or education support.

Where to Get an Estate Plan That Works

If you are single and do no have an estate plan that has been updated in the last 3 to 5 years or since you experienced a major life change, we invite you to contact our Haddondfield, Ewing, or Philadelphia office for an estate planning consultation.  856-857-6000.