Married couples are not the only people who need to plan for who will receive their assets after death or make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Regardless of whether a New Jersey resident is single because he or she has never been married or is divorced, an estate plan is just as important for him or her as it is for a married couple. In some ways, it becomes even more important since, without proper planning, state law and/or the courts will make decisions on one's behalf.
Wills and trusts allow a person to retain control of what happens to his or her assets after death. Using a trust can provide even more control, since he or she is able to decide when a beneficiary receives assets from the trust and how much a distribution will be when it occurs. Without these documents, an individual has no say in who receives his or her estate after death.
Powers of attorney for health care and finances are also crucial for a single New Jersey resident. If a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to manage his or her affairs, family members will be forced to go to the courts. The process of appointing a guardian and/or conservator can be time-consuming and costly. During this time, critical health care decisions may have to wait, a person's assets can languish and bills may go unpaid.
These are only some of the reasons why an estate plan is important for someone who is single. Depending on a person's specific circumstances, other issues may need to be taken into consideration. Consulting with someone familiar with the creation and execution of an estate plan can help ensure that a plan is structured to accommodate a single person's situation.
Source: elderlawanswers.com, "Estate Planning for a Single Person", Jan. 15, 2015