Are you a single person with no dependents?
If so, you might be wondering: who can I leave my estate to if I have no family?
Or, you could be on the other side of it thinking — “isn’t estate planning for married couples and people with families?” Whichever side you’re on, you’re in the right place. In this blog, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of estate planning for a single person. It’s tailored specifically for individuals like you. So, if you’re single, independent, and building your path in life — stick around!
Estate planning is never a one-size-fits-all concept. And it’s not just for married couples or people with families. It’s a very important process for everyone — regardless of relationship status or family size.
This blog is your comprehensive guide to estate planning for a single person, whether you’re just starting out or have been contemplating it for a while. Here, you’ll find valuable insights to all of your questions.
Why Estate Planning Matters for a Single Person
Estate planning for single people is crucial because it’s more than just financial assets. It’s about creating a legacy that reflects your values, passions, and the impact you want to make on the world even after you’re gone.
If you don’t have a clear estate plan, your assets could end up in the hands of distant relatives, or worse, the state! All of your cherished belongings, hard-earned money, and even your most meaningful possessions could be given out without a second thought about your intentions. And I know you don’t want that to happen.
When you create a clear, well-written estate plan, you choose exactly where your assets go. That way you can make sure your favorite charity, a cause you really care about, or your close friend gets the support you intended.
Supporting Causes and People You Care About
If you’re someone who has a deep connection with causes, charities, or organizations that align with your values, this is where an estate plan comes in handy. You can specify exactly how you want to support those causes, even when you’re gone.
Whether it’s an animal shelter, a medical research institution, or an educational foundation — your estate plan can be a source of support. It allows you to continue the work you believed in during your lifetime.
You probably have some close friends, caregivers, or mentors who played an important role in your life. Through your estate plan, you can empower these individuals. A few ways you could do that is by acknowledging their importance and providing for them financially. That way, you have the peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of even after your passing.
Your estate plan is a testament to all the relationships that matter most to you — as well as a meaningful way you can express your gratitude.
Your Comprehensive Guide to Smart Estate Planning for a Single Person
You might wonder, “How do I get started on estate planning with no family?” Having an overview of everything you need is helpful. That’s why I’m going to create a list for you of things you need to think about when thoughtfully planning your legacy.
For example, Sarah, a single professional, created a comprehensive estate plan. All of her assets were able to go to her favorite charity, which supported a cause dear to her heart. The decision she made not only made a difference for her but also inspired her other friends to plan for their legacy. This is a good example of the positive impact of taking time to thoughtfully plan your estate.
Here is a list of what you need to think about when doing intentional estate planning.
1. Make a Will
A last Will and Testament is a very important piece to your estate plan. This is where you can specify exactly how you want your assets to be given out after your passing. If you don’t have a Will, the state will distribute your assets (not according to your wishes.)
2. Think About a Trust
If you have a lot of assets, a trust can really help you out. You’ll be able to seamlessly transfer your assets to your beneficiary when you pass away. There are many different types of trusts to consider – such as a living trust or a testamentary trust. Your needs will determine the type of trust you’ll want. Trusts also let you avoid the probate process, which can take a lot of time and money. To read more in depth about trusts, check out the blog I wrote about it!
3. Choose Beneficiaries
Make sure you have designated beneficiaries on your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement plans. That way your assets will go directly to your chosen beneficiaries and not have to go through probate.
4. Choose a Durable Power of Attorney
Find someone you trust as your financial power of attorney. Whoever you choose will be in charge of managing your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. That person will be authorized to speak on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself.
5. Plan Your Healthcare
When you’re estate planning with no family, you’ll want to be sure to assign a medical or healthcare directive. This is also known as a living Will. You get to choose who you want your healthcare power of attorney to be — that person will then have the power to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to.
6. Protect Your Kids
If you’re estate planning as a single person, but have minor children, you’ll want to choose a trustworthy guardian for them when you pass. It’s really crucial to choose someone who would be physically and emotionally able to care for your children. Otherwise, this decision will be made by the courts.
7. Asset Protection
Think of asset protection as a safety net that you put around your money and valuable things. This “net” protects your important belongings in case something bad happens after you pass, like a lawsuit or financial trouble. Asset protection will protect your home, business, and/or savings from being taken away.
8. Don’t Forget Digital Assets and Passwords
When you pass away, someone will need access to your digital accounts. It’s crucial to keep a document in your estate plan that has passwords to all important accounts (banking, bills, etc.) It’s also important to note in your plan what happens to your email and social media accounts.
9. Charitable Giving
Like I said earlier in the blog, if you have a charity that’s near and dear to your heart — put it in your estate plan. You’re in charge of deciding how much of your assets go towards causes you care about.
10. Regularly Review and Update
Don’t just create your plan and “forget it.” Be sure to revisit it regularly as your life and circumstances change. Review and update you plan as needed, especially after a significant life event.
11. Talk to Your Attorney
This is one of the most important pieces when estate planning as a single person. Talk to a trusted, and experienced attorney. That way, they can make sure your plan is customized to reflect your needs and goals. Also, they will ensure everything is written correctly and that there are no mistakes that will cause legal troubles.
All of these things share a common purpose: YOU get to have the final say in your life decisions. And the good news is, when you’re estate planning for a single person – you have a lot more flexibility in your plan since you don’t have to consider your spouse or children. Even if you have a child, there’s still flexibility. But it’s still vital to have a well thought out estate plan for your assets to be distributed as you wish — and to specify how you want to be taken care of if you’re incapacitated.
Even if You’re Single, You Don’t Have to do this Alone
I understand that estate planning in general can feel overwhelming. Especially considering all of the things you need to think about. But here’s the silver lining: you don’t have to tackle all of this on your own!
I’m here to support you. I’ll address all of your questions, fears, and doubts. Because you deserve to have an estate planning journey that’s as smooth as possible. Taking a proactive approach is the best way to get started, and ensure everything is handled the right way.
My goal is to make you feel at ease, and have peace of mind that everything will be taken care of when you pass away. Don’t hesitate to schedule a 15-minute chat with me so I can see where you currently are in the process, and figure out how I can assist you best. After that first consultation, we can schedule a longer meeting to go through all the details and questions you have.