Young Adults and Singles Need Estate Planning Too
I was having a conversation with a thirty-something friend last week. She is single, in good health, and doesn’t have any children or dependents. When I was telling her a little about the type of work I do she proudly exclaimed;
"Thank goodness I’m young enough I don’t need to worry about estate planning!"
As I explained to my friend, estate planning is not just about planning for what happens when you die. In some respects, that’s the easy part. If you’re young and unencumbered you probably don’t care much about what happens to your stuff when you die.
What most people don’t realize is estate planning is just as much about planning for life as it is about planning for death. Here are a few questions for the young and single to ponder:
- If you were hospitalized for an extended period of time due to accident or illness, how would someone manage your affairs?
- Could someone access your bank account to pay your bills?
- Would someone have the authority to access or apply for benefits that may be available to pay for your care?
- Who would make medical decisions if you were unable?
- Is it possible there may be a conflict among family members over who should control your healthcare?
- Could someone access your home or apartment to gather your belongings? To feed your cat?
Every adult, regardless of their financial or family situation, needs some type of basic estate and incapacity planning. While this is not a topic we like to think about, putting together a plan is a lot easier than you think and, like insurance, is there in the event you need it. While no two situations are exactly alike, for younger adults and singles, I typically recommend the following documents:
- Will: Generally directs how your estate will be administered upon your death.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Allows you to appoint someone to assist in handling your personal or financial affairs in the event of your illness, absence or incapacity. This is probably the most critical document of an estate plan for a young or single person.
- Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: Allows you to appoint a person who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- Living Will: This document should not be confused with a will; it deals only with medical decisions, not property. Along with the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, it is sometimes referred to as an “advanced directive.” Allows you to give directions to your healthcare surrogate and physicians on how you would like to be treated at the end of your life and whether you want certain medical procedures withheld in the event of a terminal illness.
- HIPAA Authorization: These authorizations allow designated individuals to access your medical records and speak to your healthcare providers. This is important in the event you become hospitalized or incapacitated so trusted family and friends can learn about your condition and make arrangements for your care.
Typically a comprehensive estate plan for an individual with a simple estate can be put together for less than $1,000 and sometimes less if only a few documents are needed. Getting started is easy. Contact my office and we can schedule a time for a consultation to discuss your needs and a plan that works for you.