Many people believe that Estate planning is meant only for the wealthy or those with families and children of their own, however this is simply not true. Everyone, including single individuals, should have a plan for how their assets are distributed at their death. Without a plan, you have no control. Instead, the distribution of your assets is determined by the state law of the jurisdiction where you reside at death. Your assets may end up in the hands of some distant relative that you don’t even know. Is this really what you want? What if you lose capacity during your lifetime? In that event without someone, you trust to make decisions for you, some unknown person that the court appoints could become in charge of your assets. It is crucial, therefore, that all adults, especially single individuals have an estate plan. At the Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen, an estate planning firm in Washington D.C., we guide single individuals through the stages of estate planning by asking the relevant questions. Please see our guide below.
What is an Estate Plan for a Single Individual?
An effective estate plan for a single individual is a collection of legal documents that govern both lifetime and after-death events. During a lifetime, it names someone to handle your financial affairs and make healthcare decisions for you when you can no longer do so yourself. At death, it provides for the orderly disposition of your assets to your beneficiaries and can protect those assets against claims of creditors or a divorcing spouse. All plans should include a will, financial durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney, or health care directive. To protect assets for the beneficiaries, a trust is often included.
Why Do Single Individuals Need an Estate Plan?
Everyone benefits from having an estate plan. Although as a single individual, you may not have children of your own, you may have nieces, nephews, or close friends, who are important to you. Even if you don’t, wouldn’t you rather give your money to a charity that you care about rather than let state law decide? And, especially as a single individual, you should be concerned about what happens to you if you develop dementia or simply get old and need assistance with your financial affairs. A well-drafted estate plan can ensure that there is someone to help and provide you with the comfort you need as you age.
Guide to Estate Planning for Single Individuals
We believe estate planning for single individuals is just as important as it is for married couples with families. You should start the process early. It you wait, it may be too late. At the Law Offices of Clifford M Cohen, we suggest that you answer the following 10 questions regarding estate planning for single individuals to get yourself started and then contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your situation further.
- Do you have an emergency contact list readily available?
- Do you have a list of healthcare providers, medications, and allergies for each member of the family readily available?
- Do you have access to all personal computers, passwords, and online accounts?
- Are you familiar with your personal finances?
- Have you previously created a will or trust?
- Do you have power of attorney for your financial and healthcare affairs?
- Do you have a living will?
- Have you created an appointment for a guardian for children under the age of 18 if applicable?
- Do you have any life insurance policies?
- Who would you want to carry out your estate plan?
Are you A Single Individual Looking for Estate Planning Help? Here Is How We Can Help
Estate planning is a process that every Maryland resident should pursue. Unfortunately, however, many people put it off until critically ill or nearing death. Although creating a plan, even during a crisis, is better than no plan at all, waiting until a tragedy strikes is never wise and is almost always less effective than beginning early.
Not only is earlier planning less stressful, but it is also likely to be more comprehensive as it plans for lifetime occurrences as well as after death. So act now and contact a seasoned estate planning attorney, and rest assured knowing that you and your family are prepared for whatever life-changing event may occur.
At the Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen, we design customized estate plans, unique to each of our clients. There is no set template and one size does not fit all. If you are unsure of what all should be in your estate plan, we can provide guidance through in-depth one-on-one conversations. Simply express your concerns, and we can make you aware of the documentation needed to ensure that it does not become an issue, but our involvement doesn’t stop there. We are fully invested in your future and will serve as your counsel throughout the estate planning process and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help in your estate planning.