Whether you’re a single senior who lives alone or one who lives with a partner, establishing a new estate plan or modifying an existing one is essential. You might wish to leave assets to your partner that they could not get through intestate succession, or maybe you have children you want to leave your assets to. Perhaps there are organizations you want to receive a charitable donation upon your death. Whatever your final wishes, you should create a legally enforceable estate plan now.
Determining Your Beneficiaries
If you don’t have a spouse or partner to designate as a beneficiary, you must decide who you want your assets to transfer to when you die. That means considering all your options, whether you have one or multiple children, dependent adults, or another relative you want to take care of when you’re gone.
Seniors without close relatives might choose to leave their estate to a longtime friend. Donating a portion of your estate to your local church, charity, or another institution might be a good option if you don’t have immediate family.
Designating a beneficiary is vital no matter who you pick. You don’t want your assets to transfer to an estranged family member or pass to the state under intestacy laws.
Creating Wills and Trusts
Seniors could benefit from creating a well-thought-out last will and testament. A will establishes your final wishes for surviving family members or the probate court to follow while settling your estate. You can outline how you want to transfer your assets, determine whether you want a guardian appointed for a dependent adult child, and direct your relatives on how to settle your affairs.
Creating a trust can also protect your loved ones when you pass away. Instead of going through probate to recover the funds, the trustee can transfer the assets to your beneficiaries immediately upon your death. They won’t have to deal with the probate court and wait for a judge to validate your will before authorizing the personal representative to administer your estate.
Appointing a Power of Attorney
Powers of attorney should be a part of your estate plan. You must prepare for the unexpected, not only for your death. A valid power of attorney authorizes your chosen agent to manage your affairs if you can no longer speak for yourself.
For example, if you become incapacitated after a traumatic car crash, your medical power of attorney could direct your healthcare team on the type of treatment or end-of-life care you want. A financial power of attorney can access your accounts to pay your bills and handle other necessary aspects of your finances.
The Importance of Modifying an Estate Plan
You can modify your estate plan at any point during your life. However, waiting for a disabling medical condition or cognitive impairment can create various challenges. You must be of sound mind to create and change estate plans. It’s best to make the amendments while you’re still healthy.
Modifying an estate plan is often necessary when significant changes in a person’s life occur, such as divorce, death, or birth. For example, if your designated beneficiary dies, you must change your estate plan to include a new beneficiary so that person receives your assets when you die.
Learn More About How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You
Determining how to distribute your estate can be challenging if you’re not married and don’t have kids. You should immediately consult a will and trust lawyer to learn about your legal options. We can review all contributing factors and assist you in executing the appropriate documents to include in your estate plan. We will also help you protect your assets and prepare your estate for the future.
This article is a service of Miller & Miller Law Group.