You should never fall for the myth that you do not need estate planning simply because you are not married or do not have any children. Without considering your personal estate planning needs, you run the risk that you or your loved ones may not be prepared upon your disability or death. Speaking with a counseling-oriented estate planning attorney allows you to plan to have everything in place should something happen to you. There are many ways to plan your estate, and the best estate plan for you will depend on your personal goals. In general, critical estate planning documents include a combination of the following:
- Last Will & Testament or Living Trust. Either of these estate planning vehicles can serve as your foundational estate plan to pass along your property to your loved ones and/or charities. When additional instructions to your beneficiaries are desired to be passed along with the property, a Trust is the legal vehicle to make that happen. If one of your goals is to plan for your own disability, a Living Trust may be recommended since it is effective immediately, whereas a Will is only effective at your death.
- Advance Directive for Health Care. If you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, an Agent authorized through your Advance Directive for Health Care can step in and make decisions on your behalf. The Directive also allows you to express your desires for allowing or disallowing life-sustaining procedures at the end of your life.
- Financial Power of Attorney. If your primary estate planning vehicle is a Last Will & Testament (see above), you will need a Financial Power of Attorney in order to name an agent to handle your property should you become disabled. You must use extreme caution when naming an Agent under a Power of Attorney. Your Agent may be able to sign your name to anything you currently sign your name to, including bank accounts and real estate deeds. However, without having a Financial Agent or planning for your disability using a Living Trust, the Probate Court will be responsible for appointing a Conservator to help make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
What is best for you can only be determined by reviewing your specific goals and discussing your options with a lawyer who will take the time to get to know you. Any person, including singles, need to make sure that the legal documents are in place and your helpers (whether family, friends or trusted advisors) understand your plan and how to implement it. Call Bennett Watson today at (229) 333-0860 to find out what is best for you by signing up for our next Client Orientation Meeting scheduled for May 10th at 2 pm. There is no charge for the meeting, and it is held right here in our office.