Pauls Valley Democrat’s recent article entitled “Even singles need estate plans” tells us what might happen if you die intestate (without a last will and testament). In that case, your any assets without a surviving joint owner or designated beneficiary or titled in a revocable living trust may be required to pass through the probate process. As a result, they’ll be distributed by the court, according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
If you don’t have children, you may have nephews or nieces, or even cousins or friends, to whom you’d like to leave some of your assets. However, if everything you own goes through probate, there’s no guarantee that these people will get what you wanted them to have. Therefore, if you want to leave something to family members or close friends, state this in your last will and testament.
You may also want to provide support to some charities. You can just name these charities in your will. However, there may be options that could provide you with additional benefits. One such possibility is a charitable remainder trust. With this trust, you’d transfer appreciated assets, such as stocks, mutual funds or other securities, into an irrevocable trust. Your named trustee could then sell the assets at full market value, avoiding the capital gains taxes you’d have to pay if you sold them yourself, outside a trust.
Moreover, if you itemize, you may be able to claim a charitable deduction on your taxes. With the proceeds, the trust can purchase income-producing assets and provide you with an income stream for the rest of your life. At your death, the remaining trust assets will go to the charities that you’ve named.
Singles also should have as part of his or her estate planning, a durable power of attorney and a power of attorney for health care. A durable power of attorney allows you to designate an individual to manage your finances, if you become incapacitated. This is really important, if you don’t have a spouse to step in.
If you become incapacitated, your power of attorney for health care allows you to name another person to legally make health care decisions for you.
Estate planning can be complex, so work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Reference: Pauls Valley Democrat (June 24, 2021) “Even ‘singles’ need estate plans”