Valentine’s Day is intended to be a day to show your appreciation for a person that you love. In my house, it means small children showing up with candy just after we finally finished off the last of the Christmas treats.
It can also be a less than enjoyable holiday if you are single.
While, February 14th may not be the best day for a solo visit to that 4-star restaurant you wanted to try, it could be a great opportunity to treat yourself. You could buy yourself flowers (heck, you should buy yourself flowers all the time), enjoy chocolate guilt free and watch whatever you want on TV knowing that no one else is going to make you watch French movies with English subtitles. Just because you are single doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself on Valentine’s Day.
The same can be said for estate planning. Although many people associate estate planning with providing a legacy for a spouse and children when they pass away, planning as a single person is equally as important. If you fail to put an estate plan in place and you are married with children, state law does offer some protections for your family members. Although these protections come at a high cost, the state will ensure that your estate provides for your surviving spouse and children.
However, if you are single and have no children, the state looks to your legal heirs to inherit your personal and real property. In some cases, this may result in your parents receiving your assets or perhaps a portion of your estate may go to your siblings. However, if your parents are deceased and you’re an only child, the chances that your estate might pass to someone with whom you had a limited relationship has exponentially increased. Further, that trusted friend who you know would care for your house before it was sold and donate your personal property to your favorite charity would likely not be the person in charge. Instead your estate may be managed by a distant family member.
A Last Will and Testament allows you to designate the intended beneficiary of your estate; whether it is a family member, friend or charity (or all three). You have the ultimate control over the disposition of your estate upon your passing. You are also able to pick who would be in charge of making sure your assets are distributed properly after your death. If you are single and you hope to leave your assets to a friend or charity, stating your wishes in a will is the only way to accomplish your goal. Choosing an Executor who you trust ensures that the administration of your estate is not left in the hands of elderly parent or distant relative.
Naming individuals to make your medical and financial decisions during your lifetime is also extremely important for the single individual. If you do not have a joint owner on your bank account and you are stranded in a foreign country and need money, no one has the ability to access your personal funds unless you have durable power of attorney. If you are rushed to the hospital and your friends are desperate to get information from your doctor, they may hit a roadblock unless they have authorization under a medical power of attorney.
These estate planning documents are important for both married and unmarried people but are of particular importance when your friends or certain family members are your most trusted companions. Creating an estate plan giving the right people the authorization to help you and clearly identifying the beneficiaries of your estate is a great way to treat yourself for Valentine’s Day.