Our law firm helps young single adults preserve peace of mind through proper estate planning.
If you are single, then you are in good company. According to the most recent U.S. Census, more than half of all adult Americans are single, too. Whether you just turned 18 or are 118 one thing you share with your married counterparts is the need for essential estate planning.
Often overlooked in the estate planning world is planning for the young single adult. If you are 18 to 25 and leaving on a church service mission, leaving home for college, or joining the military you need to consider estate planning. Who would make basic decisions if you were unable to do so? Or, even if you are able to make your own decisions, will you need your parents’ help? We help young adults implement health a care directive, power of attorney, and last will and testament to deal with the realities of life as an adult. Even if you do not have two dimes to rub together, you are your estate. The law requires you to make your own personal, financial and healthcare decisions.
Unless you legally appoint a decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning (i.e., through a healthcare directive, power of attorney, and last will and testament), your parents or another family member might have to seek the order of a judge to help you out. The probate court process to accomplish this can be expensive, requiring the payment of filing fees and, usually, at least two attorneys and a medical expert. Further, it requires disclosure of your private personal and financial information to the court. Mostly, it is a hassle and difficulty on your loved ones.
Young is a state of mind. Regardless of your age…if you have a young state of mind and never marry or if you become single because of a divorce, you need to plan your estate. We often find that singles neglect beneficiary designations on life insurance, IRAs, 401ks, and other assets. In the case of a divorcee, this can mean a prior spouse is listed on a beneficiary designation—and although the law deals with these issues, that does not mean there will not be complications after death (for example, we have seen several cases where a prior spouse claims life insurance proceeds from his or her ex-spouse based on an outdated beneficiary designation). And of course, other estate planning issues remain—it is still important to designate someone to make healthcare decisions, someone to help with property/business decisions if you are unable, and to plan for death. We can help with all of these with a proper estate plan, including a healthcare directive, power of attorney, revocable living trust, and last will and testament.
Of course, there are many other important decisions for you to make in addition to those listed above. Most of your concerns can be addressed in an estate plan suited to your stage in life.
If you are planning a new stage in life, as part of a married couple, you should consider planning to protect your assets with a premarital or prenuptial agreement. We often find that the process of implementing a premarital or prenuptial agreement results in discussions about financial and estate planning decision that avoid marital contention down the road—making a premarital or prenuptial agreement a plan for a successful marriage. Then, after you are married, you and your new spouse should update your respective estate plans consistent with your marital agreement and to fit your new life stage.