People without children may think they don’t need an estate plan if they don’t have a family to care for.
But none of this is true. Simply put, everyone needs an estate plan, and by asking yourself a few questions, you can have one in minutes.
Why Do You Need Estate Planning?
First of all, having a comprehensive estate plan is important for everyone, whether they have children or think they don’t have a lot of money or other assets to leave behind. And “everyone” includes those who are single, many of whom may not realize the need for estate planning.
A last will is a written document that provides for the distribution of the assets of a deceased person. If you die without a will and will (“intestate”), your state’s laws will determine where your property goes, and this may not match your wishes.
Just because you don’t have children or grandchildren to whom you wish to leave possessions, you may have other family members, friends, or favorite charities you would like to see benefit from your lifetime of hard work.
In addition to the last will, your estate plan should also include a durable power of attorney, which appoints someone to decide for you whether you are unable to do so, temporarily or permanently. You can appoint the same person or different people to make medical decisions and/or manage financial matters.
A living will is another important document in estate planning. This allows you to define the type of medical care you want or do not want if you are unable to express those wishes on your own. For example, you may choose not to receive artificial life support.
5 Tips for Creating Your Estate Plan
The process of organizing your affairs doesn’t have to be complicated. You can quickly create an estate plan by considering the following questions.
1. Who do you want as executor?
An executor is a person who executes your will, so it must be someone you deem competent. They must also be responsible and willing to serve. So talk about it first before implementing your will.
2. Who do you want to step in and make decisions on your behalf?
Perhaps even more important than choosing an executor is deciding who will represent your interests if you become disabled or unable to care for yourself.
Again, this should be someone you trust to make difficult decisions, especially regarding specific circumstances not included in the estate planning documents.
Keep in mind that while many people choose their spouse to serve in these roles, there may not be a spouse available when the time comes, so it’s a good idea to list the alternative options.
If you don’t have a partner or live alone, creating these documents will help you identify someone who can advocate on your behalf.
3. Who do you want to get your stuff?
Take inventory of your real and personal property and make a list of friends and family members you want to inherit from you, then match them up.
But friends and family aren’t the only ones to consider when creating your estate plan…
4. Are there charitable organizations you support?
Many people without children or heirs leave money to their favorite charitable organization, although in some cases it is better for tax purposes to do so while you are alive to increase deductions. You can also create a charitable trust with your funds and distribute it to selected charities within a certain period of time.
Even post-mortem donations are a good area to plan with an estate planning attorney, as there are ways to keep the receiving organization from paying huge taxes.
5. Are your pets provided for?
Your pets are likely to be like family to you, so you’ll appreciate knowing that they’ll be fine when you’re gone. Not only can they choose someone to take care of them, but they can also put money into a trust fund to take care of them.
Nobody knows what the future will look like. Wouldn’t it be nicer to know that if you die or can’t work, your wishes are fulfilled and you become incapacitated, someone you trust will take care of your work themselves? Want to learn how to start? Schedule a free session for advice.