You may think, because you are single, an estate plan is an unnecessary burden. The truth is even singles should have a plan in place, because life can change in a minute. Estate planning is more than about ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
A thorough estate plan also allows you to make decisions about your health care in situations where you may not otherwise be able to express your wishes. Proper estate planning also involves making sure someone can handle your finances in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.
You May Be Unable to Communicate Due to Injuries
A car accident, workplace injury, or a fall in your home can render you unable to care for your personal needs, voice your opinion about the level of care you will get, or handle your expenses during your recovery. These are a few of the reasons why an estate plan is a necessity.
By working with an estate planning attorney today, you can draft a living will, a health care directive, or you may opt to provide a healthcare power of attorney. When you take the time to prepare these documents, you and your family members will be prepared for emergencies. Leaving these issues to chance is not a good idea, and in some cases, could result in your wishes which were shared verbally being ignored. Having legal documents in place can make things easier for your family.
Singles in Relationships with or Without Children
When you are involved in a relationship with another party, if you lose your life in an accident, or you become disabled, they have no rights. This means unless your assets are in both your name and your partner’s name, they cannot access bank accounts, or other assets which they may need to pay for your care or maintain your home. Having an estate plan drawn up by an attorney who customizes the plan to meet your needs ahead of time is helpful in these situations.
We have many single parents and divorced parents in North Carolina. When you lose your life without a will in place, your child stands to inherit your entire estate. If this is not your plan, having an estate plan in place which will provide for your child but still carry out your other wishes is important.
Singles With Assets They Wish to Donate
Today, thousands of people make the decision to donate part of their assets to charities. However, if you die without a will or other legal documentation in place, your estate will be divided up in accordance with the laws on intestate succession in North Carolina. This may not be in line with your final wishes. To protect yourself and your assets, an estate plan is a must.
Special Needs for Singles Who Own Businesses
There are thousands of entrepreneurs in North Carolina who fully or partially own a business. You are jeopardizing your business name and reputation if you have not put a plan in place to ensure succession of your business in the event of your death or disability.
The Basics of Estate Planning for Singles
Estate planning involves looking at more than any physical property you may own, for example, a home or a vehicle. While each person has individual needs, there are some documents which you need to make sure you have a complete estate plan in place. These include:
- Last Will and Testament — this legal document spells out in detail how you wish for your estate to be divided up. You will designate a person, known as an executor, to administer your estate and carry out your final wishes. The executor of your estate may be a friend, relative, or this task may be carried out by an attorney.
- Durable Power of Attorney — a legal document which gives authority to a person to handle your financial matters in the event you are unable to do so on your own. These documents are only used in cases where you are incapacitated and unable to communicate or manage your own affairs. These documents may limit the powers given to your designee or they may be broad powers to carry out financial transactions in the manner they determine is best. These powers do not extend past your incapacity and do not survive your death.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney — this legal document provides you an opportunity to appoint a trusted person to handle your medical affairs in the event you are unable to communicate with your healthcare team. It is important to note the authority granted to this person may be rescinded at any time, and an advanced directive could be drafted which would override any instructions they were to provide if they were not in accordance with your wishes.
- Beneficiary Designations — life insurance policies and most retirement plans require the account holder to provide them with beneficiaries. When you have a life-changing situation such as getting married, divorced, or when your beneficiary dies, or you change your mind, your beneficiary designations must be brought current.
Estate plans should be comprehensive and reflect your current financial status. As your life changes, your estate plan should change as well. Remember, while individual documents are considered legal and binding once they are properly executed, they may be changed at any time.
If you purchase a home, adopt a child, or get married, you will want to update your will and other estate planning documents. Should you determine you need to make a change to the person you have designated as the executor of your estate or wish to change who has power of attorney for health or financial needs, these documents can be updated by contacting your estate planning attorney.
Consult One Of Our North Carolina Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate plans should never follow a cookie-cutter format. Every person has different needs and wishes and your estate plan should be customized to meet those needs and wishes.
Being single does not mean you should not have an estate plan – in fact, it may be more important for you to have an estate plan than it is for your married peers to have one. Contact McCollum Law today and make sure you are prepared for whatever unexpected things happen.