Estate Planning for Single Individuals: What You Need to Know
by Gary Altman, Esq.
Estate planning for singles is just as important as it is for couples. Some of the common issues that need to be addressed/properly planned for:
1. Singles who were previously married: When it comes to a person’s assets, unfortunately, divorce does not provide full financial closure. All too often, after someone dies, it becomes apparent that an ex-spouse was unknowingly still listed as a beneficiary on a financial account. It is critically important to ensure that the beneficiary declarations for all of a person’s assets – retirement plans, real estate, bank accounts, etc. – have been revised accordingly after a divorce.
2. Singles who become unable to make decisions for themselves: A common estate planning concern – especially for singles who have no children – is deciding who they want to act as their medical and financial representative if they become incapable of making decisions for themselves. It can be an overwhelming choice for some singles and, as they say…analysis, paralysis. Many singles end up not making these important legal choices, leaving their fate and their assets at the mercy of the courts. Whether it’s a sibling, a niece or nephew or even a trusted friend, the decision should be made, and legally documented, well in advance.
3. Singles with assets to leave behind: Another estate planning decision that is challenging for singles – again, especially for those without children – is where they want their assets to go after they’re gone. In the case where there is a taxable estate, advanced planning is critically important in order to reduce estate tax exposure. Whether you are leaving things to family or to a charitable organization, it is imperative to have your wishes spelled out in black and white.
A good estate planner can help a single person make the types of tough decisions that couples normally tackle together, making their choices crystal clear and bringing them peace of mind!
Gary Altman, Esq. is the Principal and Founder of Altman & Associates, an estate planning law firm in Rockville, MD. He can be reached on 301-468-3220 or via email at gary [at] www.altmanassociates.net. To learn more, visit www.altmanassociates.net.
Copyright © 2015 by Gary Altman, Esq. All Rights Reserved.