Estate Planning for Single Individuals

October 18, 2022

Having an estate plan may seem insignificant if you are single. However, a valid estate plan ensures that a single individual's wishes are followed in various circumstances. One part of an estate plan is either a last will and testament or a trust, which designates who should receive your assets after your death. Another essential element of an estate plan specifies a financial and medical power of attorney, allowing you to choose personal representatives who will help you handle your financial matters and health care decisions if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. From pets to charitable giving, estate planning for single individuals is critical.

Whether you are divorced, have outlived your partner, or have never been married, having a solid estate plan in place can provide assurance that your intentions will be honored after you pass away or if you should become unable to communicate your wishes. At Johnson Law Group, we can answer your questions and ensure your legal rights are protected both now and in the event of your death or incapacitation. 

Choosing Your Beneficiaries

If a person fails to leave behind valid estate documents, state law will determine where their assets will go. The concept that refers to dying without a valid will is called “intestate.” Intestate law, in most locations, dispenses a decedent’s assets to their spouse, children, and then the closest blood relatives.

However, you may have friends as close as your family members and want them to inherit your property after you pass away. You may want your assets to be given to a charity or left to a long-term partner. Clearly stating your intentions in an estate plan will ensure your wishes are followed.

Choosing Powers of Attorney

If you become unable to speak for yourself and have not appointed someone to care for your financial or health care matters, the state can make important decisions on your behalf. The court may appoint a stranger or distant relative as your agent. Preparing a legal document beforehand gives you the power to choose a person you trust to make these key decisions for you. In this case, estate planning for the single individual is essential as these decisions may ultimately be made by someone you would not choose.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney, or healthcare proxy, names someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you become unable to communicate your wishes, having a medical power of attorney in place allows you to indicate what kinds of medical interventions you would allow, including end-of-life provisions.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney appoints a person of your choice to care for your financial affairs. This trusted person can do things such as:

  • Ensure Financial Continuity: Manage bills, investments, and expenses during incapacity.
  • Prevent Financial Mismanagement: Protect against potential mismanagement of assets.
  • Protect Estate Value: Maintain and grow the value of your estate.
  • Support Dependents: Make sure there is ongoing financial support for dependents.

Without a person in place, a court would need to appoint someone to handle significant financial matters, which could delay access to the finances required to pay your bills.

Take Action Now

Estate Planning for Single Individuals

Many people put off the creation of an estate plan, even though they agree it is important. Most of us do not expect to become incapacitated in the near future or to pass away anytime soon, so creating an estate plan does not seem urgent. Unfortunately, this can have a devastating impact on you and your family. Here are some further considerations on the importance of getting started on your estate plan:

  • If something unexpected happens to you, it may burden your loved ones with managing critical decisions on your behalf. Without your clear wishes expressed, this can cause disagreement and family disputes.
  • If you have minor children, the court will appoint a guardian without knowing your wishes for their care.
  • If you have people who depend on you financially, your assets will be unavailable to them until your estate is sorted out.
  • Your assets may not go to the beneficiaries you might have chosen.
  • You may lose the ability to choose who will take care of your pet
  • You may lose the ability to decide to donate a portion of your estate to charity
  • The IRS might tax your estate in a way that you would not have chosen
  • You could lose the ability to create an estate plan if you become incapacitated.

Update Your Wishes

As you've learned, estate planning is crucial to ensuring your assets and wishes are honored after your passing. In Colorado, keeping these documents up-to-date is particularly vital for several reasons.

  • Life's Changes Demand Adaptation: Your estate plan shouldn't be static. As your life evolves, so should your documents. New choices for beneficiaries arise with marriages, births, or strengthened relationships. Updating your preferences ensures your wishes are reflected, and your loved ones are protected.
  • Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored: Updating your estate plan can help avoid unintended consequences. Outdated documents may leave cherished assets in the wrong hands or cause unnecessary stress and confusion for your loved ones during a difficult time.
  • Protecting Your Legacy: Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan ensures your wishes are clear, your legacy is protected, and your loved ones are cared for as you envisioned. Don't leave your future to chance - take control and update your plan today.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Although estate planning is easy to put off, estate planning for single individuals is a must. Planning now can ensure that your intentions are followed when you pass away or cannot speak for yourself. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today at Johnson Law Group. Our compassionate and dedicated estate planning attorneys can help ensure that your legal rights are protected and that your wishes are honored regarding your assets. Contact us today at 720-445-4444 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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