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Estate Planning for Singles

Serving Families and Individuals Throughout Hackensack, New Jersey and Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Singles

Estate planning is important for everyone, regardless of age, financial circumstances, or marital status. If you're a single person, you may think that not having a will or other vital estate planning documents is no big deal, but this is definitely not the case. Estate planning involves much more than just naming beneficiaries – an advance directive, powers of attorney, and trusts all protect your interests while you are still alive. Our experienced estate planning lawyers at Giro & Associates, LLC help you create personalized estate plans that fit your specific needs.

Creating a Will

According to the American Bar Association, more than 55% of Americans die without a will each year. This is a startling statistic, as failing to have a will in place leaves distribution of your estate up to the probate court and assets are distributed according to the intestate succession laws of your state. For a single person without children, this usually means that surviving parents, then siblings, then other relatives end up as beneficiaries. Any jointly-owned property, such as real estate, bank accounts, or other assets you co-own, automatically pass to the living owner.

Having a will lets you specify how you want assets and specific items distributed after your passing and help make probate estate administration easier. Whether you plan on leaving your property to friends, family members, or charities, a will can give you peace of mind by knowing that your wishes will carry out the way you intended. You can also name guardians for minor children and leave specific care instructions for any pets.

Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care (health care proxy) allows you to name an agent who makes medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated or unable. You can specify which treatments or medicines you do or do not want to receive. Your agent can make decisions, like whether to admit or discharge you from a hospital or who is permitted access to your medical records. If you are single and have no POA agent or next of kin, a guardian or conservator is appointed by the court, which means a stranger will make your medical decisions for you. A durable power of attorney only takes effect if you become incapacitated.

Advance Directive

Sometimes called a living will, an advance directive goes hand in hand with your power of attorney for health care. It allows you to specify what you want for medical care and end-of-life decisions, such as medications, resuscitation measures, feeding tube, dialysis, ventilator, and other life-sustaining treatment. Each state has its own requirements for these documents, and in some cases, medical power of attorneys and advance directives are combined.

Our experienced Hackensack estate planning attorneys can help you create these important documents and ensure all relevant information is included, so your health care proxy knows exactly what is expected of them. If you wish to specify your requests for final arrangements, it's usually best to detail in a separate document.

Financial Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney for finances allows you to designate an agent who manages your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. You can make your financial POA as broad or as specific as you wish. Your financial POA can do things like:

  • Pay bills
  • Make deposits
  • Manage bank accounts
  • Investment and retirement account transactions
  • Run your business
  • Handle government benefits
  • File and pay taxes

This type of durable power of attorney is very important to protecting your financial security and overall well-being. You can name any trustworthy adult as your agent or opt for a professional to handle your finances if you are unable.

Trusts

If you want your assets to pass directly to beneficiaries and avoid probate, a trust is a good solution. Revocable trusts allow you to put in and take out assets or terminate the trust at any time. An irrevocable trust is a valuable tool for asset protection planning, allowing you to qualify for Medicaid-funded long-term care, and helping minimize estate taxes. Typically, an irrevocable trust cannot undergo modification and there are strict rules regarding timelines and look back periods for Medicaid. It's essential to have knowledgeable trusts attorneys assist you, so everything is set up in a way that benefits you and your loved ones.

Establishing a Legacy

Some single people opt to leave some or all of their assets to charity. There are several ways to include charitable giving in your estate plan, including naming a charity as a beneficiary in your will or setting up a charitable trust. You can even specify how you want the money or assets used. To ensure you reap any tax benefits a charitable trust offers, it's important to seek the counsel of an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer well-versed in ever-changing local, state, and federal laws (and regulations).

Designating Beneficiaries

It's also important for single people to designate beneficiaries for any life insurance policies, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, and payable-on-death bank accounts. If you fail to designate beneficiaries for these assets, the estate becomes the beneficiary and they have to go through probate, which is often a lengthy, costly process.

Updating Your Estate Plan

Regardless of whether you're single, married, or in a relationship, it's a good idea to update your estate plan periodically or when a big life event occurs. Our knowledgeable attorneys can do a comprehensive review of your estate plan and advise you of your best options.

Contact Our Hackensack Estate Planning Lawyers to Learn More

Understanding the ins and outs of estate planning on your own is often challenging. Our dedicated team is committed to providing top-notch legal services you can trust. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Hackensack, NJ contact us.

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Giro & Associates, LLC

90 Main Street, Ste. 101
Hackensack, NJ, 07601

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