By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
January 3, 2019
What You Need to Know about Estate Planning When Single and Childless
Most people think of estate planning as a way to pass down assets to their spouse and children. Because of this, those who are single and childless may put it off.
In actuality, however, those who have no clear heirs are usually more in need of a detailed plan. Otherwise, whoever does fill the role of settling your affairs will have quite the burdensome task on their hands.
Following are a few simple but key measures you can take to prepare your estate so that your affairs are managed exactly how you would like.
Draw Up Your Will
First and foremost, you must establish a written will explicitly detailing the way you would like your estate to be handled. From the moment you’ve passed until the last asset has been distributed, your wishes should be spelled out.
Determine how you’d like to split your estate, and name your beneficiaries. If that includes charities, detail how you’d like your proceeds to be distributed. An estate planning attorney will provide clear counsel on the right will structure based on your personal circumstances.
Once your will has been drawn up and signed, set an annually recurring date to meet with your attorney to review the documents and make any necessary updates.
Identify Power of Attorney
Before you’ve crossed that final bridge, you may become incapacitated, in which case a trusted family member or friend will need to oversee your affairs and personal care.
This is a huge responsibility, so take care in deciding on the right person. This individual will be entrusted with acting in your best interest for every decision. Be sure they have the intent and experience to do so.
Upon naming someone, do not wait to sit down with them and discuss your intentions. Give them the time and space to consider your proposal, and be sure they are one hundred percent on board.
If you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, then a healthcare surrogate will make them for you. In order to have a say in who takes on this role, you should put in place a Medical Power of Attorney.
Additionally, you can provide guidance to your surrogate and medical professionals for what end-of-life care and medical treatment you’d like through a living will. With these advanced care directives, you can ensure your lifetime disability needs are addressed by having the right people in the right positions ready to serve.
Consider Professional Guardianship
One surfacing trend among forward thinking “solo agers” (boomers without children) is to completely relieve all friends and family of these responsibilities by hiring a professional private guardian, or “professional fiduciary” to take over their affairs should they become unable to do so for themselves. These fiduciaries dedicate their lives to this profession and often have expertise in areas of law, accounting, real estate, and taxes – among other things.
We recommend the same level of care be taken in selecting a professional guardian. Cultivate a relationship over time. This way, the individual can better understand who you are and how you make decisions for yourself, which should give you confidence that they will act in your best interest when the time comes.
Facing the inevitable can be challenging, but with a bit of advanced planning while time is still on your side, you can make the path much easier for those who want the best for you down the line. It will also provide you with peace of mind, making an uncertain future a bit more known.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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