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Single? Why you need an estate plan

In previous decades, most U.S. residents made the decision to marry. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, in 1960, 72 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and older were married. Fast forward to 2011 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, at 50.2 percent, the majority of U.S. adults were unmarried.

Even individuals who choose to marry are typically doing so at a later age and divorces and remarriages are also exceedingly common in the U.S. today. Combined, these factors mean that a significant percentage of adults in the U.S. will at some point or another be single. From an estate planning standpoint, single adults would be wise to meet with an attorney who can answer questions and assist in making plans for their futures.

Many people wrongly believe that estate planning is a process in which only parents or married couples must engage. In reality, single adults are much more vulnerable to the potential pitfalls that may result if they fail to establish an estate plan.

Say, for example that an unmarried individual is involved in a serious car accident and he or she is hospitalized and incapacitated for several days. During this time, several important bills may be due including a home mortgage. If an individual hasn’t named a durable power of attorney, no one may have the authority to access important financial and other accounts to pay bills and tend to these types of pressing matters. There may also be important health-related decisions that must be made and, without a living will and designated health care representative, family members will be forced to make difficult decisions which may not be in line with one’s wishes.

These two examples should be enough to convince any single adult about the importance of estate planning. Taking steps today to plan for both expected and unexpected life events helps ensure that an individual is able to take control and live out life according to his or her own terms.

Source: Scituate Mariner, “PLANNING MATTERS: Singles still need an estate plan,”Leanna Hamill, Feb. 119, 2016

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