The unmarried have special estate planning needs

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | Estate planning

Seniors face the possibility of being widowed or divorced. Estate planning for seniors should also deal with the needs of unmarried people.

Other priorities

Planning for singles should emphasize customary estate documents that do not address the disposition of their property. This includes authorizing someone who can make important medical and financial decisions when you are unable to.

With a financial power of attorney, a person should identify one or more people who are willing and competent to be an agent and take care of financial matters when that person is unable to. Financial matters must be established so that the agent can locate important information and understand the person’s needs. This document should comply with Florida law and be acceptable to financial institutions.

For health care directives, it is important to designate individuals who know and comply with your wishes on medical treatment and end-of-life care. A document may identify who can visit you at a hospital or other facility.

Long-term care

Long-term care insurance and its payment should be a priority. Unmarried people may not have family members who can assist with payment or decide on payment and care options.

Wills and trusts

If a person dies without a will, Florida law dictates how property will pass to children and surviving family members. A will can help assure that your wishes are met.

With all estates, selecting its executor should be carefully considered. Discuss the role with that person and assure that they are competent and can devote time to that role. Executors must know where all of your important financial and estate documents are kept.

A revocable living trust may be an attractive option. Property in a revocable living trust avoids probate and notification to potential heirs. Assets will be distributed under the terms of the trust. When this occurs, the will covers a smaller proportion of assets that are not in the trust and must undergo probate.

Transfer assets such as your home, cars, and financial accounts into the trust. Selecting a competent successor trustee such as a family member, friend, lawyer, or financial professional is also important.

Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries must be named for assets that are not controlled by a will or trust. These include retirement plans, annuities, and life insurance.

Unmarried people should carefully complete beneficiary designation forms and keep copies of these forms. Beneficiaries need to be constantly reviewed and updated.

Social Security beneficiaries are limited to the spouse, former spouse, and children. Many employer plan annuities have similar restrictions.

Singles also face special tax and gift giving issues. Attorneys can help develop options and prepare documents that meet these needs.