The urgency to complete estate planning for single adults is often different from that of married individuals. Without a spouse, single adults face more uncertainty in who would be involved in their life in the event of disability or incapacity, and also who will inherit upon death. In addition to the normal Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy, below is a look at 4 things single adults should pay particular attention to as part of their estate planning.
1 – Health Care Directive
A health care directive, often referred to as a “Living Will”, provides details on your wishes for medical treatment. This can include instructions on the use of life-saving measures such as breathing tubes, blood transfusions, and life support. In situations where decisions must be made quickly and next-of-kin may be difficult to identify, providing this information in advance ensures your wishes are honored. In Massachusetts, a Health Care Directive is not a legally binding document and is not a substitute for a properly drafted Health Care Proxy, but it is a powerful tool to help your decision-maker carry out your wishes.
2 – Careful selection of the Personal Representative (Executor) for the Will
A Personal Representative is responsible for managing any portion of your estate that has to go through probate. This person is nominated through a Last Will & Testament. You should select someone that you trust to carry out your final wishes. A Personal Representative can be a beneficiary of your estate or a completely independent party, such as an attorney.
3 – Trust
There are many ways to convey assets. It can be given outright, in one piece, to beneficiaries or you can detail more specific instructions via a trust. Trusts can also avoid a lengthy probate process and create a level of privacy that Wills can’t. Discuss trusts with your estate planning attorney to determine whether it’s something you’d like to include in your estate plan and what type of trust works best for you.
4 – Funeral Directives
If you have strong feelings about your burial or cremation, consider including specific burial instructions in your estate plan. Most of us avoid discussing grim topics like death and funerals, but this makes it even more difficult for friends and relatives to know your preferences.
Other Things Single Adults Should Have in Their Estate Plan
These are just a few examples of things single adults should have in their estate plan. Depending on your personal circumstances, there may be other important considerations. With something as important as your estate plan, be sure to consult with an attorney. Experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorneys will take the time to understand your needs and recommend other important provisions to include in your plan. Schedule a consultation with our team to get started.