Estate planning is a vital process that involves making decisions about the end of life, including how your assets will be distributed upon your passing. While one could assume that estate planning is only necessary for couples or families, the reality is that all adults benefit from having an estate plan in place.
One could argue that as a single adult, there is an even greater need, particularly given the complex decisions that may arise in the later years regarding aging and end of life care. Here are key estate planning tips to consider:
Create a Will
A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for how your assets should be distributed after your death. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to your state's intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes. By creating a will, you can ensure that your assets go to the people and/or organizations you designate.
Choose an Executor
When creating a will, it is essential to choose an executor to conduct your wishes after your death. An executor is responsible for managing your estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing your assets according to your will. You should choose someone you trust to serve as your executor, and you should discuss your wishes with them ahead of time.
In addition to creating a will, it is essential to designate beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets that allow for beneficiary designations. By designating beneficiaries, you can ensure that these assets go directly to the people or organizations you choose, without going through probate (i.e., the legal process to determine the transfer of a deceased individual’s assets)
Plan for Illness or Incapacity
Finally, as a single adult, it is crucial to plan for the possibility of illness or incapacity. You can address this possible scenario by creating a durable power of attorney and an advanced medical directive. These documents allow someone else to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. You can also create a living will, which outlines your wishes for end-of-life care.
Consider a Trust
If you have substantial assets, you may want to consider creating a trust. A trust allows you to transfer your assets into a legal entity that can manage those assets on your behalf, during your lifetime and after your death. By using a trust, you can avoid probate and ensure that your assets are managed according to your wishes. In addition, trusts typically make the estate process much smoother for your family and other heirs.
In conclusion, estate planning is just as important for single adults as it is for couples and families. This is why Wolf Group Capital Advisors incorporates estate planning reviews in every financial planning engagement with all of our clients.
So, how do you know if you need to establish an estate plan or need to have your existing plan reviewed? Please review the following questions as a starting point:
- Do you know how your assets will pass at your death?
- Have you designated someone to make medical and financial decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated?
- What kind of care do you prefer in the event that you become ill or incapacitated?
If you are having difficulty answering any of these questions, feel free to reach out to us to discuss the best possible next steps in gaining clarity about planning for your later years.
By Kevin Ostergaard, CFP®, CIMA®
About Wolf Group Capital Advisors
At Wolf Group Capital Advisors, a comprehensive wealth management firm and Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) based in Fairfax, VA, nothing is more important than the fiduciary responsibility we have in managing your wealth. Taking the utmost care, we focus on providing advice tailored to your specific circumstances. With more than two decades advising U.S. expatriates and non-US citizens employed by international organizations, we are uniquely qualified in investment strategies addressing global issues. Empathy and curiosity—combined with our experience in life planning and investment management—enable you to explore a wider set of possibilities that can lead to a fulfilling life you’ve worked hard to attain.
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