As you approach retirement, you likely have many important accomplishments to look back on. As a single person with no children, you probably took advantage of your freedom to establish a successful career, gain countless life experiences and provide a comfortable future for yourself.
Have you thought about what will happen to your estate when you pass away? You certainly have important people in your life, perhaps even some you consider closer than your own family. However, if they are not related to you, they will have no legal claim to your property unless you prepare your estate carefully.
Providing for others
For singles with no children, estate planning may have an even more important role than for those with natural heirs. New Jersey has a law of succession for heirs, meaning that if you die without an estate plan, your assets automatically go to your closest relatives as outlined by the government. Your life partner or best friends have no claim.
You may also have a special charity or beloved pet you wish to provide for. With properly funded trusts, you can ensure these have adequate care of for years to come. Without making a plan, no one is legally bound to carry out your wishes. Many once-loved pets end up in shelters when their owners do not plan for their care.
Providing for yourself
More urgently may be the decisions you would make about your finances, health care and end-of-life treatment if you should become incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, your loved ones would have to seek permission from the court to manage your finances, pay your bills and make legal decisions for you.
The same is true for your health care. If your partner understands your desires regarding what medical treatment to provide and to withhold, you may leave your partner to battle in court with well-meaning relatives who do not understand you in the same way. Your wishes expressed in estate planning documents can relieve them of this burden as well as designating someone to make those difficult medical decisions in your name.
Don’t put it off
Your estate plan is about more than dividing your belongings. It can also be about providing a secure future and peace of mind for yourself and those closest to you. In fact, by reaching out to an experienced professional, you may learn that there are many more options that are appropriate for your unique circumstances.