When we typically think of estate planning, we see grandma and grandpa putting together a Will and possibly setting up some trusts for the following generations. It’s all about providing for our offspring, right?
Not necessarily. Even if you are single and/or have no children, a Worcester Wills and Estates lawyer like Attorney Kristina Vickstrom should still be in your plans. Why? Because estate planning is really about YOU.
While it is absolutely advisable for married people or those with children to work with an estate planning lawyer, it’s also just as important for single adults. After all, when a married person suffers a major illness, it’s usually pretty clear who will eventually take on their medical and financial responsibility. The water gets murkier for unmarried individuals.
If you were to suddenly become incapacitated, who would make your medical decisions for you? Possibly your parents would be called in to determine how your medical care should proceed. It might be your sibling. But what if you don’t get along with your brother? Even if your parent or sibling would be your first choice, that doesn’t mean that the courts would agree without having your wishes legally documented.
The person to make medical and financial decision on your behalf is whomever the courts decide! Again, it could be a parent, a sibling, some other relative, or even a court-appointed individual (a stranger!). While she was not single when she was hit with dementia, the children of the late signer, Etta James, fought repeatedly with their step-father over the management of her assets and health care. James should have documented her wishes and avoided a lot of the conflict, allowing her family to more fully enjoy her last moments.
Finally, who would have legal rights to your belongings, to your home, to your pets? You may think you know the answers, but without clearly outlining your wishes with a Worcester area Wills and Trusts attorney, you have very little control over the matter. Families can be torn apart by court battles involving an estate with no Will. Popular Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson, who died unexpectedly in 2004, had been living with his girlfriend of 30 years at his passing and had taken on no estate planning. A legal battlefield erupted over his assets, namely the rights to his successful publications. With the exception of an unfinished manuscript on a shared laptop, his girlfriend walked away with nothing and Larsson’s father and brother inherited everything. This also could have been avoided, or lessened, if Larsson had set up even the most basic of estate plans.
A single adult without children does not need to worry about creating guardianships and trusts to provide for his or her children, but it’s certainly a good idea to look out for yourself. Some of the basic legal documents any single person should have include:
- A Will to determine what will become of your assets in the event of your death.
- A Health Care Proxy to name the person you want making medical decisions on your behalf.
- A Power of Attorney for financial matters to name the person you feel should be responsible for your money if you are incapacitated.
- And possibly a revocable living trust to centralize management of assets if you become incapacitated and keep your assets out of probate if you should pass away.
These documents are crucial in ensuring that your wishes are met and that you have control over your future. One doesn’t need to a famous R&B singer or best-selling, author to need an estate plan. Everyone, including single people, in Worcester County, should consider estate planning. Contact Vickstrom Law today to set up a consultation or to find out more information.
Photo courtesy of Bree Bailey