You may think that estate planning is for married people or those who have children. Single people also leave behind assets when they pass away. If you are single and do not establish who will be your beneficiary, provincial laws will decide and the decision may not be to your liking. If you’re divorced, widowed or never married, it’s important to think about where you want your assets to go and to put some basic documents in place. Following are some crucial steps to take if you are single and planning your estate.
Execute a power of attorney and a health care proxy. These documents allow you to select someone to make important financial and medical decisions for you if you can no longer make them for yourself. Ensure that you name someone you trust.
Make a will. The power of attorney and health care proxy are no longer valid when you pass away so it’s important to create a will. Your will should name an executor of your estate who will attend to your affairs after you pass, probate your will and pay income and estate taxes. Draft your will carefully to ensure that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.
Create a revocable trust (a trust in which the terms can be changed at any time): You’ll be the primary beneficiary and trustee while you are alive. Name a beneficiary who will receive the assets upon your death. Name a successor trustee to manage the trust in the event you cannot manage it yourself. Fund the trust during your lifetime so that if you are incapacitated, the successor trustee will be able to use the funds for your care.
Consider estate taxes. If you wish to minimize the amount of taxes on your estate, consider charitable planning as a way to reduce taxes while giving back to society. You may also make lifetime gifts to family and friends.
If you have a partner but are not legally married, you may want to list your partner as a beneficiary in your estate plans. If your partner is not officially listed, your assets will go to your next existing heir.
If you are single but have children, estate planning is essential. Choose a guardian to care for your child(ren) should something happen to you. Select someone the child knows and whom you trust to care for your child as you would. Set up a trust to see to the financial welfare of your child over the course of their lifetime.
If you are single and a business owner, estate planning is especially important. Even though you may not have a spouse or children, you likely want to control what will happen to your assets as you’ve put time and effort into building your company. Choose whom you want to inherit your business and determine what restriction (if any) you would like to place upon your beneficiary. Create a plan in case of an accident or emergency and alter it as your life changes.
A good estate plan reduces stress and anxiety. If you are single, protect yourself and your preferences by making a well thought out plan. No matter what your relationship status, by creating a Will, Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney, you can ensure that your wishes are respected and that your assets are distributed to the people, charities, and organizations that mean the most to you. Consult an experienced estate planning team. They will have the expertise, knowledge and experience to help you plan and execute your wishes.
MacMillan Estate Planning offers a holistic approach to estate planning with all the people, processes, and technology that you need to plan your estate – either in person or virtually. Our team of lawyers, accountants, financial planners and counsellors offer a refreshing alternative to the banks, law firms and accountancy firms. Register for one of our upcoming seminars. You can also take advantage of our complimentary virtual consultations; call us or email us: 1-833-266-6464 and firstname.lastname@example.org.