I have a significant number of people ask me why they would need an estate plan as a single adult. This is because there is a common misperception that an estate plan does not become necessary until you marry and/or become a parent. To make sure you do not fall victim to that common misperception, let me explain why even a single adult should have an estate plan.
An Estate Plan Does More than Plan for Your Death
The mistaken belief that estate planning is all about death often causes singles to believe they do not need an estate plan. While it is true that estate planning helps to ensure that your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes after you are gone, a well-thought-out and properly drafted plan can accomplish much more. Planning for the very real possibility of incapacity, for example, is another common estate planning objective as are probate and tax avoidance. A comprehensive estate plan can also help you to protect and grow the assets you acquire over the course of your lifetime and make those assets work for you during your retirement years. Given the wide-ranging goals that an estate plan can help with, it becomes easier to understand why every adult needs one.
Benefits of Estate Planning for a Single Adult
While you may need to expand your estate plan if you marry and/or become a parent, there are several important benefits to having an estate plan in place as a single adult, including:
- Protecting you in case you suffer a period of incapacity. If you are incapacitated because of a tragic accident or debilitating illness, someone must take over control of your assets. Without an estate plan in place that addresses the issue of incapacity, your family members could end up in court battling over the right to be that person. That litigation could cause a divide in the family for many years to come. Moreover, the person who does end up with control of your assets might not be the person you want controlling them.
- Not leaving behind an intestate estate. Whether you have already amassed a sizeable fortune, or you have a modest estate, you likely care what happens to the assets you do own if something happens to you. If you die without at least a basic Will in place, the state gets to decide who receives your assets. Close friends, favorite nieces and nephews, and beloved charities will receive nothing from your estate.
- Deciding who will make health care decisions for you. If you become incapacitated, and you did not execute the appropriate advance directive as part of your overall estate plan, a court may end up deciding who will be in charge of making life and death decision for you if you cannot make them yourself.
- Deciding who will oversee the administration of your estate. The only way to know who will be in charge of your estate assets if you pass away is to create an estate plan and appoint an Executor or Trustee.
- Choosing a guardian for your children. If you are a single parent – or you become one at some point –one of the most powerful reasons to execute a Will is because it offers you the only official opportunity to nominate a Guardian for your children, should one ever be needed.
Knowing you have Taken Care of your Estate can Give you Peace of Mind
For all of us, regardless of marital status, we’d like to enjoy the best life we can. We know we are going to die sometime and we know the consequences of not planning can mean at best leaving a mess and at worse leaving people you would not have choses in control and inheriting what you have. You know there is a chance of illness or injury leading to incapacity. Getting thing organized so that the tools and people are in place to deal with incapacity and death can give you the peace of mind needed to not worry about this and focus on the things and people that matter the most. That’s part of a life well lived.
Contact Chapel Hill Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have questions or concerns relating to the need for estate planning as a single adult, please contact a Chapel Hill estate planning attorney at Clarity Legal Group by calling us at 919-484-0012 or contact us online.
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