3 Reasons Why Single Folks with No Children Need an Estate Plan

Author

Entrusted Legacy Law

Posted on

Nov 11, 2022

Book/Edition

Pennsylvania - Greater Pittsburgh Area

These days, more and more young people are delaying—if not totally foregoing—a life that involves marriage and parenting. The lack of jobs, crushing student debt, multiple recessions, and the pandemic have pushed many young people into a life path that leaves little room for settling down with a partner and getting married—and even less room for having children.

Yet, for other young adults, staying single and childless is simply a matter of choice. Regardless of the reason, as more young adults opt for non-traditional lifestyles, the number of single childless households is likely to steadily increase in the coming years.


While most adults don’t take estate planning as seriously as they should, if you are single with no children, you might think that there’s really no need for you to worry about creating an estate plan. But this is a huge mistake. In fact, it can be even MORE important to have an estate plan if you are single and childless.


If you are single without kids, you face several potential estate planning complications that aren’t an issue for those who are married with children. And this is true whether you’re wealthy or have very limited assets. Indeed, without proper estate planning, you’re not only jeopardizing your wealth and assets, but you’re putting your life at risk, too. And that’s not even mentioning the potential conflict, mess, and expense you’re leaving for your surviving family and friends to deal with when something unexpected happens to you.


With this in mind, if you’re single and childless, consider these three inconvenient truths before you decide to forego estate planning:


1. Someone Will Have to Handle Your Stuff

Whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in between, in the event of your death, everything you own will need to be located, managed, and passed on to someone, which can be a massive undertaking in itself—one that few families are properly prepared for.


In fact, following a loved one’s death, American families spend an average of 500 hours and $12,700 over the course of 13 months (20 month if probate is required) to finalize the person's affairs and settle their estate, according to the first annual Cost Of Dying report released this March by tech startup Empathy in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Look for additional articles in the coming weeks covering the Cost Of Dying and the new role Empathy is playing in the end-of-life industry.


On top of the logistical complications involved with finalizing your affairs, without a clear estate plan, including a will or trust, your assets will go through the court process of probate, where a judge and state law will decide who gets everything you own. In the event no family steps forward, your assets will become property of the state.


Why give the state everything you worked to build? And even if you have little financial wealth, you undoubtedly own a few sentimental items, maybe even including pets, that you’d like to pass to a close friend or favorite charity.


However, it’s rare for someone to die without any family members stepping forward. It’s far more likely that some relative you haven’t spoken with in years will come out of the woodwork to stake a claim. Without a will or trust, state intestacy laws establish which family member has the priority inheritance. If you’re unmarried with no children, this hierarchy typically puts parents first, then siblings, then more distant relatives like nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins.


Depending on your family, this could have a potentially troubling—and even deadly—outcome. For instance, what if your closest living relative is your estranged brother with serious addiction issues? Or what if your assets are passed on to a niece with poor money-management skills, who is likely to squander her inheritance?


And if your estate does contain significant wealth and assets, this could lead to a costly and contentious court battle, with all of your relatives hiring expensive lawyers to fight over your estate. In the end, this could tear your family apart, while making their lawyers rich—all because you didn’t think you needed an estate plan.

As your Personal Family Lawyer, we will work with you to create an estate plan that ensures that your assets will pass to the proper people, while avoiding both unnecessary court proceedings and family conflict.


2. Someone Will Have Power Over Your Healthcare

Estate planning isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical aspects of estate planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while you’re still very much alive.


Proactive planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make such decisions yourself. This is done using an estate planning tool known as a medical power of attorney.


For example, if you’re incapacitated due to a serious accident or illness and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it would be left up to a judge to decide who gets to make that decision on your behalf.

If you have a romantic partner but aren’t married and haven’t granted him or her medical power of attorney, the court will likely have a family member, not your partner, make those decisions. Depending on your family, that person may make decisions contrary to what you or your partner would want.


And if you don’t want your estranged brother to inherit your assets, you probably don’t want him to have the power to make life-and-death decisions about your medical care, either. But that’s exactly what could happen if you don’t put a plan in place.


Furthermore, your family members who have priority to make decisions for you could keep your dearest friends away from your bedside in the event of your hospitalization. Or family members who don’t share your values about the type of food you eat, or the types of medical care you receive, could be the one’s making decisions about how you’ll be cared for.

To address these issues, you need to implement an estate planning tool that provides specific guidelines detailing exactly how you want your medical care to be managed during your incapacity, including critical end-of-life decisions. This is done using an estate planning vehicle known as a living will.


Bottom line: If you are single with no kids, you need to create an estate plan in order to name healthcare decisions-makers for yourself and provide instructions on how you want those decisions made should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself.


3. Someone Will Get Power Over Your Finances

As with healthcare decisions, if you become incapacitated and haven’t legally named someone to handle your finances while you’re unable to do so, the court will pick someone for you. The way to avoid this is by granting someone you trust durable financial power of attorney.


A durable financial power of attorney is an estate planning vehicle that gives the person you choose the immediate authority to manage your financial, legal, and business affairs if you’re incapacitated. This agent will have a broad range of powers to handle things like paying your bills and taxes, running your business, collecting your Social Security benefits, selling your home, as well as managing your banking and investment accounts.


Without a signed durable financial power of attorney, your family and friends will have to go to court to get access to your finances, which not only takes time, but it could lead to the mismanagement—and even the loss—of your assets should the court grant this authority to the wrong person.

What’s more, the person you name doesn’t have to be a lawyer or financial professional; it can be anybody you choose, including both family and friends. The most important aspect of your choice is selecting someone who’s imminently trustworthy, since they will have nearly complete control over your finances while you remain incapacitated. And besides, with us as your Personal Family Lawyer, your agent will have access to our team as their trusted counsel should they need guidance or help.


Don’t Leave So Much At Risk

Given these potential risks and costs for yourself and those you care about, it would be foolhardy if you are single without kids to ignore or put off these basic estate planning strategies. Identifying the right estate planning tools is easy to do, and it begins with a Family Wealth Planning Session. During this session, us, your local Personal Family Lawyer will consider everything you own and everyone you love, and guide you to make informed, educated, and empowered choices for yourself and your loved ones.


In the end, it will likely take just a few hours of your time to make certain that your assets, healthcare, and finances will be managed in the most effective and affordable manner possible in the event of your death or incapacity. Don’t leave your life and assets at risk or leave a mess for the people you love; contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer to get your estate planning handled today.


This article is a service of Sharek Law Office, LLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article that you found on SeniorsBlueBook.com to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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Entrusted Legacy Law

Elder Law 100 Pinewood Lane Suite #303, Warrendale, Pennsylvania, 15086

Our Firm Prepares You for Life What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing families in mind. We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a life of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency. You are raising children, and caring for elderly parents, while also working hard to build your own nest egg for a lifetime of support. You want to know youve made the best decisions for your family and that your plan will work when your loved ones need it most. You want to make sure your minor children would be raised by the people you choose, and never by anyone you wouldnt want, and that your teens and adult children are properly prepared to care for you and what you leave behind.  You want to feel confident that youve made the right choices, and handled everything so that you arent leaving behind a mess, when something happens. That is our focus as well. Weve developed unique systems to give you the same access to a Personal Family Lawyer as was previously only available to the super-wealthy, so you can have the guidance you need to build and maintain a life of prosperity and wealth. And, to keep your family out of court and out of conflict, which is the greatest risk to the people you love and all you have created, even if youve already worked with a traditional lawyer or created documents online. Our Team Is Here for You We encourage communication with our clients. In fact, weve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises. We have a whole team to serve you. When you call our office to ask your quick question, you wont have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. Youll get your question answered, right away. And, if you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call with your Personal Family Lawyer, a call will be scheduled when you're both available and ready for the call so we can make the very best use of your time and not waste your time by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth. And, we ensure the most important details of your planning are followed through on and your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime. We have a funding coordinator to ensure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime and none of your assets will end up going through a long, expensive court process or being lost to the state because they were missed after your death. Weve created unique membership programs to keep your plan up to date year in and year out as well as give you access to our Trusted Team of Legal Experts for guidance on ANY legal or financial matter. One day you will need a lawyer. I dont know why and I dont know when, but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and well be here to advise you or get you out of a jam. We Help You Transfer Your Life and Legacy Lastly, we believe your financial wealth is only a small part of your overall Life and Legacy Planning which is made up of your far more valuable and most often lost upon incapacity or death intellectual, spiritual and human assets. These assets are what make you who you are, and sum up whats most important to you. And, a survey of inheritors has revealed that what they care about even more than inheriting your money, is inheriting these intangible assets.   Most estate plans only focus on the transfer of your financial wealth to the next generation. Most people have such great intentions of passing on the intangible, but very few ever get around to it. Its just not a priority, until its too late. How much do you know about your grandparents values? Their most prized personal possessions? How they felt about you? What they had learned during their lifetime? If you are like most people, you know very little. Thats why we build the capture and passage of these most valuable assets into every estate plan we create. Not only will we help you pass on your money, but also your values, your insights, your stories and your experience the truly valuable assets your loved ones care about the most.  Weve developed a tool that allows us to capture and pass on your whole family wealth, including your Intellectual, Spiritual and Human assets.  I cant go into all of the details here, but well definitely talk about it when you come in for your Life and Legacy Planning Session.