The world of estate planning is full of misconceptions and one of the most dangerous is that unmarried and unattached individuals don’t need an estate plan. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every adult needs an estate plan but not everyone’s planning needs are the same. This is among the myriad reasons why working with an experienced estate planning attorney is so important.
The Unique Estate Planning Needs of the Unattached
Unmarried individuals need all the same basic estate planning documents required of other adults. These include a will, healthcare proxy (sometimes called a medical power of attorney), and durable financial power of attorney. Establishing these documents is different (and often trickier) when you’re unattached, however.
Healthcare Proxy and Financial Power of Attorney
These two documents protect your medical and financial well-being should you suffer a serious accident and lose the ability to act on your own behalf.
Signing a healthcare proxy or financial power of attorney implies designating a trusted loved one or advisor to manage medical and financial matters while you are incapacitated. Frequently, people designate their life partner, spouse, or adult children to these roles but if you have none of the above you need to come up with an alternative. This involves careful thought and planning.
Your first impulse might be to look to a dear friend or sibling and if you are young and in good health (and so are your friends and sisters or brothers) this may be a good solution. However, if you have reason to worry that those closest to you might not be around when you need them most, you need to reconsider this impulse.
Some single individuals choose to designate a trusted advisor such as a financial planner or personal attorney to the roles described above. The deeply personal nature of granting power of attorney means that not everyone is comfortable with this option, however.
There is no universal solution here and yet an experienced estate planning attorney can offer valuable counsel. Not only are they familiar with the nuances of healthcare proxies and powers of attorney, but they have guided many individuals in similar situations through the process and thus can share what has worked for others.
Last Will and Testament
Whether you’re single or married, if you pass away without a will your assets will be distributed according to state law. If you don’t have children, this means your property could go to parents, siblings, half-siblings, cousins, or nieces and nephews. You may not want some (or any) of these people to be the beneficiaries of your life’s work and yet if you don’t have an estate plan, you get no say in the matter.
When you’re unattached it is often because your priorities aren’t centered on building a family. Maybe you’ve dedicated your life to a career or a cause. Maybe you’re more concerned about a region of the world than you are about erecting a white picket fence. Maybe your chosen family matters more to you than your biological one. Whatever the case, the only way to ensure your unique priorities are represented in your final wishes is to build an estate plan.
To learn more about retaining control and your assets and your health no matter your personal situation, do not hesitate to contact the Polaris Law Group today.