Time for some self-love. Snuggle down under a cozy blanket (hey, it's COLD out there), take a deep breath, and say it with me:
“I will take the steps I need to protect myself and my future.”
Fact 1. If you are single, you are less likely to have an estate plan in place.
Fact 2. If you are single, you may need a plan even more than a married person. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE KIDS.
I get it! You’ve got your nose to the grind, growing your career, maybe making some investments, and enjoying life. But financial planning (ask me for a recommendation if you need to!) and estate planning can help protect all of that. . . and more.
Even if you don’t have kids, estate planning is essential to protect your goals, your health (it’s true!), reduce stress for both you and your loved ones, and remove uncertainty after you’re gone.
Whether you’re divorced, single, or part of a couple that isn’t married, your estate plan should have three key components:
An Incapacity Plan
What happens if you are still alive, but unable to act or make decisions for yourself? This can be temporary, such as a surgery or recovery from illness, or permanent such as dementia. Two documents are used to protect your interests: (1) a power of attorney (for legal/financial decisions), and (2) a medical power of attorney.
While married folks often have a “built-in” person to speak on their behalf, it’s not so clear cut for an unmarried individual. These docs will not only specify who can act on your behalf, but also what types of actions you’d like them to take. Check out this post to learn more!
An End-of-Life Plan
Although related to the medical power of attorney mentioned above, an advance healthcare directive (also known as a living will) deals specifically with end-of-life care. Many people are familiar with DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate orders); this is similar.
An advance healthcare directive allows you to define the quality of life you want at the end, what procedures/treatments you do and do not want doctors to take, and should even include information about how you want things handled immediately after your death (organ donation, funeral, burial, etc.).
An After-Death Plan
I know. No fun to think about. But after you pass away, the documents above are no longer in effect. So what happens now? You need to have a will and/or a trust in place. While there are distinct differences between them, a will and a trust both function to handle the distribution and management of your assets. (Watch for a future blog post to learn more!)
If you have kids, this is doubly important because you’ll use these documents to name a guardian for your children and provide for their care after you’re gone.
No kids? You still need to name beneficiaries--without these documents, state law decides who gets your stuff, not you. And it’s not a quick or cheap process either. Yikes!
While it seems counterintuitive, estate planning for an individual can often be more complex!
Without a spouse, you must specifically designate and empower (legally) someone else to speak and act on your behalf in each of the above situations. These documents not only express your intention for them to act for you, but they also provide that person with documentation that other entities might need. For example, have you ever tried to call up and find out information about somebody else’s mortgage? Cell phone account? Bank account? Not. Happening. . . . unless you’ve got the legal documents to prove you should have access.
Even if you’re not sure about who you’d pick or what you want, you can get started now.
With my guidance, we can come up with a plan for you. Single parents, unmarried couples, and young professionals--you ALL need an estate plan. No matter what your relationship status is, I can help.
Just have a question? Reach out! I'd love to hear from you.