The Benefits of Estate Planning for Singles: Securing Your Financial Future

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The Benefits of Estate Planning for Singles: Securing Your Financial Future

There is a common misconception that estate planning is something to be handled after marriage. However, estate planning for singles is equally essential. Without a strong estate plan in place, the distribution of your assets may be determined by a probate court, rather than by your preferences. In addition, an estate plan is vital for establishing how financial and medical decisions should be made on your behalf should you become incapacitated. At Loughlin Law, P.A., our Florida estate planning lawyers help clients in all walks of life develop and update comprehensive estate plans that address their individual needs and preferences. Contact us today at (561) 677-8384 to learn more.

What Happens if a Single Person Dies Without a Will?

A Last Will and Testament is a keystone estate planning document; just about everyone should have one. The Will sets terms for how the assets of an estate should be distributed after the owner passes away. For single parents who have minor children, such as widows and divorcees, a Will can also designate a legal guardian for these children. If a single person dies without a Will, the distribution of their assets becomes more complicated. Someone who dies without a Will is considered to have died “intestate,” and the property of their estate is distributed according to the intestacy laws of the state in which they were living at the time of their death.

According to Florida intestate laws (Chapter 723 of the Florida Statutes), the property of someone who has died intestate is passed on to that person’s closest living relatives. If a single parent passes away, their children receive the entirety of the estate. Those who die with surviving parents, but no spouse or children, pass their estate onto their parents, and those who leave behind siblings but no spouse, children, or parents, pass their estate onto their surviving siblings. This process carries the risk that the assets of the deceased will not be passed on according to their wishes, which is why having a Will is critical regardless of marital status.

What Should a Single Person Include in Their Estate Plan?

The exact contents of an estate plan will depend on the unique financial situation of the estate owner. However, everyone should consider incorporating the following documents into their estate plans.

Last Will and Testament

A comprehensive Will is one of the most important pieces of an estate plan. Your Will should designate heirs and beneficiaries and provide terms for how assets should be distributed to these parties. Beneficiaries who have already been named in investment, retirement, or insurance accounts are prioritized over those named in a Will, so the beneficiaries of these accounts should be updated to match the Will. The Will should also name guardians for minor children and include funeral and burial instructions.

Living Trust

Living trusts are powerful tools for those looking to simplify the handling of their estate after their death. In a living trust, an individual transfers some or even all of their assets into a trust, managed by a trustee named in the trust document. The trust then becomes the new legal owner of the assets, and the assets held within the trust are not subject to the expensive and lengthy probate process. Instead, the trust contains terms for how the assets should be managed during the trust owner’s lifetime and also for how these assets should be distributed to beneficiaries after the grantor’s death. Setting up a trust can be complicated, so if you have questions about setting up a living trust or another matter regarding estate planning for singles, you can learn more by contacting the Florida estate planning lawyers of Loughlin Law, P.A.

Financial Power of Attorney

An estate plan does not only plan for death: It also plans for incapacitation. If you become incapacitated, either by severe illness or through a serious injury that prevents you from handling your own financial affairs, someone else will need to do so on your behalf. This individual is known as an agent and should be designated through a financial power of attorney (FPOA) document in the estate plan.

The agent is granted the authority to control the estate owner’s assets on their behalf and thereby to attend to all other financial matters, such as controlling investments, paying bills, and maintaining real estate properties.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney––also known as a healthcare power of attorney or, under Title XLIV, Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes, a healthcare advance directive, is a key estate planning document used to appoint someone to make medical decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated. As with the financial power of attorney, this appointee is known as an agent. A medical power of attorney is considered a durable power of attorney, meaning there is no expiration date unless the document itself contains provisions to the contrary, and the powers do not go into effect unless the principal becomes incapacitated and is unable to make their own medical decisions.

When Should Single People Update Their Estate Plans?

Creating a new estate plan helps ensure that assets are handled correctly, that minor children will be taken care of, and that someone worthy of trust will be in control of medical and financial decisions if an individual cannot make these decisions on their own. However, the work is not necessarily done once the estate plan is in place. Estate plans need to be regularly reviewed and updated, especially for major financial and life changes like marriage, divorce, the birth of a new child, or a new business.

If a single person creates an estate plan and then gets married in the future, the estate plan will need to be updated to account for the new spouse, as well as any children that the spouse brings into the marriage and any children the couple has together. The new spouse’s name may need to be added as a beneficiary on wills, trusts, and financial accounts. New stepchildren, as well as new children who are born into the marriage, may also need to be added to these estate planning documents. If the single person has a child without getting married, the estate plan can also be modified to provide for that child’s future.

Contact Our Florida Estate Planning Lawyers To Learn More

Do not believe the common misconception that estate planning is only for married couples, parents, or the wealthy. Everyone should have a plan in place for their assets and for what will happen if they become incapacitated. At Loughlin Law, P.A., our dedicated Florida estate planning lawyers can help you develop a well-structured estate plan that addresses all of your needs and preferences. Call us today at (561) 677-8384 to learn more about estate planning for singles.

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