There is an emphasis on estate planning for individuals with spouses and children. But, I would assert that estate planning is just as important for single individuals.
If you are single and own a house or non-beneficiary driven assets worth over $150,000, you should consider a living trust. This document allows you to specify beneficiaries, contingent beneficiaries and charities who will receive portions of your estate. If you are giving a portion to minors, you can consider a staggered distribution meaning that he or she will not receive their distribution until they reach the stated ages.
If you do not own real property or have liquid assets of over $150,000, then a will may be sufficient. In any event, you should either executive a living trust or will, depending on your circumstances.
The other issue is planning for possible incapacity. Part of a properly drafted estate plan contains a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive. Both of these documents are typically springing meaning that they only go into effect upon incapacity. The document goes into effect upon the preparation and submission of two letters from doctors stating that the individual is incapacitated. Upon the submission of this letter along with the properly executed document, it goes into effect.
The Durable Power of Attorney allows were agent to “step into your financial shoes” and take care of your finances, for example pay your bills, deposit checks, and file your tax returns. The document is durable meaning that it goes into effect while incapacitated, but no longer in effect when you regain capacity.
The Advance Health Care Directive allows your agent to make health decisions regarding life support, type of treatments you will receive, where you will receive medical treatments.
A single person who plans and creates these documents will ensure their loved ones will not be forced to go through a complex and lengthy process to administer the estate.