A watershed demographic event occurred in the past few
years, although without much notice: For the first time in U.S. history, there
are more people who are single than married -- 124.6 million singles (among
248.2 million people 16 and older) compared with 123.6 million who are married
as of last year. Financially, singletons have their own challenges. Take estate
planning. The express purpose of estate planning is to make things as easy, as
inexpensive and as simple as required for loved ones, friends and associates
left behind. Every situation, every life is unique -- and some of us need more
than others when it comes to estate planning.
Disability and long-term care insurance becomes more important to singles
because "there is no spouse or partner to rely on for help with covering
expenses in case of incapacity and inability to work," says Shelley
Cabangon, a senior wealth planner at PNC Wealth Management in Palm Beach,
Someone to Plan for You
Married people also have a spouse who can make medical decisions on their
behalf, but single people must plan for medical contingencies, says Karen Lee,
an accredited estate planner with Karen Lee & Associates in Atlanta. Lee
also says singles need to consider who will inherit their assets if and when
they die -- otherwise the laws of the state will prevail -- which makes a
living will with advance directives a good idea.
Jeffrey Carbone, co-founder of Cornerstone Financial Partners, a North Carolina
wealth management firm, lists and comments on five key documents singles needs
to have for estate planning purposes:
- Power of attorney. "That's very
important, especially for a single person, as it allows for someone to act on
your behalf if you are unable to do so. You want to have someone you
- Health care power of attorney. "This
allows you to have someone make health care decisions if you are unable
- Revocable trust. "A revocable trust is
a private document to pass assets on."
- Living will. "This is a document that has
your health care wishes known."
- Will. "A will is a public record to
pass along and carry out your intent."
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