Experts estimate that about 50.2% of American adults are single. While going through life without a marriage partner is becoming more common, it's important that increased social acceptance of being single doesn't prevent you from planning for the future.
Here are three tips you can use when it comes to planning your estate to ensure your affairs are in order.
1. Prepare a durable power of attorney.
When married couples begin to age, it's often assumed that spouses will help care for one another. When a spouse can no longer manage the medical and financial decisions required to care for a household, children can step in to shoulder the burden.
Since many single people don't have children, it's important that a responsible person is named to help manage the estate of aging singles. You can ensure that your estate falls into the hands of a trusted friend or family member by meeting with a lawyer to prepare a durable power of attorney.
This document appoints someone to manage your financial affairs, even if you become incapacitated. Having a durable power of attorney in place ensures that you will be looked after according to your wishes in the future.
2. Update your beneficiary designations frequently.
If you have life insurance policies or other accounts that will revert to a beneficiary after your passing, it's essential that you take the time to update the beneficiary designations on these policies and accounts frequently.
While a spouse or child may remain a constant part of a married person's life, the individuals who matter to a single person can change. If you have a falling out with a close friend or end a relationship with a long-term lover that you listed as a beneficiary, you must update your estate documents if you want to ensure that your assets aren't distributed to these individuals after your passing.
3. Create a healthcare directive.
In the event that you are rendered unable to make your own medical decisions, it's important that you designate a trusted individual to make these decisions on your behalf through a healthcare directive.
Single people can't rely on the judgment of a spouse or child, so preparing a medical power of attorney will ensure that your healthcare options are placed in the hands of someone you trust.
To avoid a conflict of interest, be sure that the individual responsible for handling your financial affairs if you are incapacitated is not the same person making your medical decisions.
Working with an attorney (like Jolein A. Harro, P.C.) to plan for your estate is important, especially if you are single. Don't wait to create a durable power of attorney, update your beneficiaries, and create a healthcare directive.