If you are single you make up over 45 percent of the US population. Whether unmarried, divorced or widowed, single people have important estate planning issues to think about. If you have children, your decisions are a bit more complicated. Consider the following:
Single with minor children: It is vital to designate whom you wish to serve as your child’s guardian. Think about this. Even if there is a surviving parent, they may not be your choice to serve as guardian. What about leaving assets to your minor children? Realistically, leaving an inheritance to minor children can be fraught with risks. Who manages the assets for your minor children? Should you select your ex-spouse or perhaps another family member? Often parents select one person to serve as guardian for minor children, name another individual to manage and invest assets for their children, and possibly choose a third to determine asset distributions.
Single with adult children: When a child turns 18, legally he or she is fully capable of receiving their inheritance and making life decisions, such as selecting a college or managing and spending their own money. Do 401(k) and IRA accounts constitute a significant portion of your estate? Severe and irreversible tax consequences can result from careless withdrawals from these inherited assets by “young” adult beneficiaries. Do you have any concerns about your child inheriting a large amount of life insurance money? Parents of 18-year olds recognize that while their child is technically an adult, it may be much too early to expect thoughtful decisions regarding their future and their finances.
Single without children: If you are single without children, keep in mind that without the existence of a properly drafted and executed will, Florida law dictates that your assets be inherited by your parents. If your parents do not survive you, your assets will be inherited by your surviving siblings. Creating a will is essential if you wish to leave your assets to anyone other than your immediate family.
Illness or disability: Whether or not you have children, there are important decisions to make regarding who is authorized by you to assist with medical and financial matters should you become ill or disabled. Advance legal directives, in the form of health care powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, living wills and HIPAA releases, insure your bases are covered in various scenarios. Without such documents, urgent medical care, managing a business or your finances, and communicating with governmental agencies such as the IRS or Social Security Administration, may need to be determined by the court.
Life can change in an instant. What are you waiting for?