Most single people think, if they have few possessions or limited assets, that there is no need for estate planning. However, most people own insurance policies and retirement accounts, and some even own houses or other types of property. So, you really need to gear up, make a list of the assets you own, and plan accordingly.
Even couples facing retirement should plan carefully but single retirees have no one to rely on but themselves for income, estate planning and security during retirement. Estate planning tips for single retirees include having a will, deciding on a power of attorney, considering a living will and making burial arrangements.
Should no estate plan be formed, the court ultimately decides who takes care of you and your finances, and could very well choose an individual you would not.
Because a single retiree does not have a spouse to inherit their property, making a Last Will or Trust is essential to make sure that your estate is handled in the manner you desire. If a person dies without one, state intestate laws decide who will inherit the property of that person. In most cases, the majority is left to the spouse; however, when no spouse exists the property is divided among the closest relatives in various percentages. Single retirees should retain the services of an estate planning attorney who can assist them with the preparation of a will or trust. This ensures they control how their estate should be distributed.
Hopefully, you will never require a probate litigator as they are usually only called in when things get heated. In addition to negotiating family disputes, probate litigators can be helpful when lawsuits are filed against decedents' estates.
A Durable Power of Attorney allows a designated person to act on your behalf to conduct any business that you can legally do yourself. This includes, among other acts, buying and selling property in your name, mortgaging property, opening financial accounts and entering into contracts. This is an important estate-planning tool for single retirees because a power of attorney typically contains a clause that specifies it is not affected by incapacity of the grantor. This is especially important for a single retiree because without a spouse there may be no one to act on their behalf should they become incapacitated. Furthermore, it allows the single retiree comfort in knowing that someone can act to protect their estate should they be unable to speak for themselves.
A Living Will, also known as a Healthcare Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy, is another important estate-planning tip for single retirees. Unlike a will, a Living Will takes affect during the lifetime of the grantor should the grantor become physically incapacitated and require life support. You can designated a person, or persons, who will make healthcare decisions for you based on your specific wishes should the need arise. Normally, a spouse would make these decisions; however, single retirees need to plan for this event should it happen.
No one likes to think about making burial arrangements much less making their own. However, this is becoming more common because parents do not want to burden their children with the grief and cost of making funeral arrangements. Again, spouses usually make these decisions because they know their mate better than anyone else does and know their wishes. Some people leave detailed notes as to what they want for their funeral. However, single retirees can make, and pay, for all funeral arrangements as part of their estate planning.
Here is a brief summary of what to do:
Preparing a Will is the easiest and the most convenient solution to make your intentions known. Consider assigning beneficiary designations for your insurance and retirement funds and give "transfer on death" or "pay on death" designations on brokerage accounts, Certificates of Deposit, checking accounts, and other financial accounts. Appoint guardians for minor children. Execute powers of attorney that cover not only your business decisions but also decisions regarding your health care. If you wish to give away some of your estate to charity, plan accordingly. Consider setting up annual payments to charity or creating a charitable Trust. Plan for your taxes. Be prepared and plan your estate. Outline your wishes in writing. Doing so could be the best gift for your family and friends and help avoid legal problems after your demise.