Single seniors should not ignore estate planning.
There are many things in life people do not enjoy doing.
Often these tasks are easier to tackle with a support system.
They are also easier to remember when people remind you they need to be done.
This can apply to relatively simple tasks like making dinner.
According to a recent The Sentinel article titled “Elder Care: Estate planning when you are on your own,” it also applies to estate planning.
Seniors in a traditional nuclear family with spouses, adult children, and grandchildren often find estate planning to be more straightforward.
They know who to trust (and, sometimes, who not to trust) when it comes to designating agents or executors to carry out their wishes.
Single seniors often find selecting people to fill important roles to be more challenging.
Some people may respond by simply avoiding estate planning.
They tell themselves it is not important because they really have no preference for who will inherit their assets.
What these singles often forget is incapacity.
Having someone trustworthy designated to make decisions regarding finances, medical care, and end-of-life care is essential.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions are required to designate these agents.
What happens if you do not have these documents in place?
The court will require guardianship legal proceedings.
You do not want this.
The court proceedings and the work of the guardian are often slow.
The process of having a guardian named and compensated for their work is expensive and can quickly drain your cash savings.
Lastly, you will not be the person vetting your guardian.
Although most court-appointed guardians are trustworthy and caring, some are not.
Single seniors can easily avoid these guardianship issues by scheduling an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney to prepare Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions documents.
These documents ensure your bills will be paid and any necessary paperwork will be filled out while you receive the care you need.
Who should singles select to fill these roles?
If you do not have a spouse or adult children, you should ask a trustworthy friend or extended family member.
Other options include people from your community, your church, or your neighborhood.
Naming a successor agent for each role is also prudent.
It is possible your first selection will be unable to serve when you become incapacitated.
Be sure to have a conversation with your agents to explain their responsibilities and what you are asking them to do for you.
It will also be helpful for them to know the location of your important documents and have a list of your assets, professional advisors and their contact information.
Single seniors can set up their estate plans for success by following these steps and working with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Reference: The Sentinel (June 17, 2022) “Elder Care: Estate planning when you are on your own”