Estate Planning for Single Persons

If you’re single, you aren’t alone. In fact, 50 percent of people are single today, a significant rise from 1950 – when that number was only 22 percent. But when it comes to finances, there are differences that require careful attention, such as estate planning.

How you title your assets, structure your financial wishes and handle other critical details must be strategically planned, but where should you start?

Estate Planning for Single Persons

The Role of a Will

Most people know they should have a will. But if you’re young or relatively healthy, it may not be at the top of your “to do” list. Carrying out your wishes, however, is much easier with a will.

Assets are typically distributed according to state law when a will doesn’t exist. A spouse or child may receive assets in the case of a married individual, while items may pass to the closest relative of a single person. If there is no living relative, your assets will likely pass to the state. Having a will prevents your assets from “defaulting,” and your specific wishes are carried out instead.

Granting a Power of Attorney

A married person’s spouse typically makes financial decisions for him or her if the person can’t, but for a single person, it’s critical to appoint somebody you trust. This person makes financial decisions on your behalf should you become unable.

Select a person you trust deeply, one who is honest, has strong financial skills and will be up to the task. A friend or close family member may be a good option.

Handling Medical Decisions

Regardless of age, anyone can experience unexpected medical challenges, and in these situations, it’s important that somebody you trust makes those decisions.

Similar to a power of attorney, a health care directive ensures that the person you appoint is acting on your behalf regarding medical matters.

Update Account Beneficiaries

If you’re recently widowed or divorced, it’s wise to review all accounts to update beneficiary information. For example, look at IRAs, life insurance policies and other assets to ensure that financial assets will pass to those you wish to have them.

Plan for Estate Taxes

Single people should also plan for estate taxes to ensure they are passing on the maximum amount of assets to their beneficiaries. Depending on your situation, it might make sense for you to give money or assets to relatives or individuals, otherwise known as “strategic gifting.” This may reduce the value of your assets, which will consequently decrease your tax bill.

Do you need help with estate planning? Most people do. Our law firm is here to help you! We handle all the complex aspects of estate planning, making the process simple for you and your family. Our comprehensive approach ensures that no important details are overlooked. For more information, call me today at 914-437-5955.

About Author

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  • Michael LaMagna, LNHA, MPA, JD concentrates in the areas of Medicaid and Advanced Asset Protection Planning, Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Probate and Probate Litigation, Guardianships, Health Care Regulatory Matters, Nursing Home Placement, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare Appeals, Social Security/SSI Litigation and Special Needs Law. If you have a question for Mr. LaMagna, please call him at (914) 437-5955.

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