The Importance of Estate Planning for the Unmarried

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An estate plan is not just for people who are married. If you are single, in fact, you may have a greater need for an estate plan.

Estate planning can be confusing. It can also be difficult because talking about mortality is often emotional and awkward.

It can be especially hard for people who are single. Without a spouse or children to think about, they may not believe creating an estate plan is a priority.

Estate Planning Tips for Those Who Aren't Married

Some of the areas single people should focus on are:

  • A health care proxy (or advance medical directive or living will). A single person needs to empower someone to make medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated.
  • Financial power of attorney. Like the health care proxy, this person will have the authority to make decisions for a single person if they are unable to do so for themselves.
  • Long-term care insurance or long-term care. Someone should be appointed to assist with care, make decisions about options, etc.
  • Naming hospital or other facility visitors. Without a list, some facilities will only allow family members to visit.
  • A will. Without one, the distribution of property is determined by state law, giving the single person no control. It can also spark ugly legal battles among other family members, such as parents, siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
  • Instead of a will, a revocable living trust. The property avoids probate, with terms of the trust determining its distribution.
  • Naming beneficiaries for assets not controlled by a living trust. These include IRAs, retirement plans, annuities, and life insurance.

The Importance of Making Wise Choices

Communication is the key to any successful estate plan. You want the people you select to make decisions on your behalf to fully understand and follow your wishes. They can be relatives, friends, or a trusted adviser, such as an accountant or attorney. Again, these conversations can be emotional and awkward – but they are necessary.

In the case of both health and financial matters, make detailed plans, review them with the people you have selected, update the plans when necessary, and review them again. Make certain the person has easy access to all documents and other information, including legal proof that you have chosen them to carry out your instructions.

An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Reach Your Goals

It’s a simple matter of demographics that the unmarried population is rising. It’s also a simple matter to recognize that estate planning is complex. In addition to the topics already mentioned, you may want to consider gift tax exclusions, charitable trusts, and other issues that probably have not even crossed your mind.

If you fail to create an estate plan, you are leaving your future up to chance and run the risk of decisions being made that are contrary to your desires.

At Hongo Law Office, LLLC, we have answers to your questions about estate planning. Estate planning attorney Yuka Hongo serves the diverse needs of clients in both Hawaii and Japan and can guide you every step of the way to assure that the legacy you leave behind is the one that reflects your dearest wishes. It’s never too early or too late to make a plan. Contact us today for a consultation.

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