You worked hard to build up your finances, so you should get to decide where it all goes after you are gone. Estate planning is about more than just keeping your assets out of the state’s hands or away from distant family you don’t know, however. There are also critical medical decisions you want to make now, so your wishes are honored when your health takes a turn. Working with an experienced Brooklyn estate planning attorney should be a priority—even if you aren’t concerned with funding a child’s college tuition or passing property onto a spouse.
Top 8 Reasons to Make an Estate Plan If You Are Single in New York
Creating an estate plan in advance of a future health decline is obviously an important step to ensure someone’s spouse and children are protected financially. Having an estate plan put into place remains important even if you are divorced, single, or have no kids to receive family assets, however. There are plenty of reasons to avoid dying intestate—that is, dying without a will or any sort of comprehensive estate plan in place—no matter your marital status. Single New Yorkers should specifically talk to an attorney for:
- Coming up with a plan for handling big-ticket assets. Who do you want to live in or oversee assets like your home, another real estate, or a small business? Do you have any interest in donating property, funds, or other assets to a specific organization or charity?
- Designating beneficiaries for accounts. If you aren’t married and have no kids, you still need to decide who will ultimately get payouts from any of your life insurance policies, 401(k) plans, personal bank accounts, and so on. Nieces, nephews, siblings, or even friends can all be named instead of children.
- Estate tax discussions. While the specific amount of federal and state-level exemptions available varies over time with inflation, the estate tax isn’t typically a concern unless you have assets in the multi-millions. Wealthier single New Yorkers will absolutely need to discuss methods to deal with estate taxes with an experienced estate planning attorney, however. That is particularly important if you have a romantic partner but aren’t married, as there are fewer options for avoiding large taxes that will cut into what that person eventually receives.
- Granting financial power of attorney. It’s better to be prepared for an emergency ahead of time than to leave friends and family scrambling to make decisions for you. If you are ever incapacitated or can’t make your wishes known, granting power of attorney ensures the right person who understands your values and thoughts on money ends up handling your finances.
- Naming a healthcare proxy (medical power of attorney). Like with a financial power of attorney, it’s crucial that every unmarried person without kids chooses a healthcare proxy before a medical crisis occurs. That person can make decisions for your medical treatments in accordance with your wishes.
- Providing for pets. While you may not have kids, that doesn’t mean there won’t be “custody” issues with four-legged family members to consider. Make sure your fur babies will be properly cared for by a capable new owner when you are no longer available.
- Selecting an executor. When drafting a will, you need to choose a trusted individual to oversee your estate and ensure all your wishes are actually followed when you can’t speak for yourself.
- Setting up and funding trusts. If you have assets you want to go directly to specific friends, family members, charity organizations, or so on you should strongly consider a trust. Funding a trust keeps those assets out of the probate process and ensures they will go where you intend.