Client sitting with estate planning attorney

Estate Planning for Singles

Just as many people erroneously believe that estate planning is only for the elderly or the very wealthy, many fail to recognize that estate planning for singles is different than estate planning for couples. Since, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half of the nation’s population is unmarried, this misconception can cause serious, widespread estate planning errors. 

To avoid making mistakes that will negatively impact your estate plan as a single person, it is crucial to have a strong estate planning attorney at your side. Our legal team at Surprenant & Beneski, knowledgeable about asset protection, avoiding probate, minimizing taxation, and all other aspects of estate planning law. More than that, we are committed to providing personalized, responsive service. If you are single and live in Southeastern Massachusetts or on Cape Cod, contact us soon to discuss your best options.

Tax Differences Your Single Status Can Make 

Many laws in this country favor married couples. In particular, as a single person, taxation laws discriminate against you in several ways:

  • You don’t have the option of leaving everything to your spouse to avoid estate taxes
  • You are allowed only one lifetime estate tax exclusion rather than two

Fortunately for all but the very wealthiest among us, federal inheritance tax is not collected until the inheritance tops $5.45 million. In Massachusetts, no state estate tax must be paid until your inheritance is over $10 million.

Nonetheless, for those these disadvantages affect, lifetime gifts become more consequential. Unless you give annual gifts to those you care about early on, your property will be subject to taxation that may significantly lessen the amount your beneficiaries receive. The more you are able to provide your loved ones with while you are still living the better off they will be.

If you do decide to give early gifts to people who will be receiving them while they are still young, you may want to establish trusts. This is a good way to protect the assets until your beneficiaries are old enough to be responsible for managing significant funds. This is something our estate planning attorneys are well-prepared to assist you with.

Another way to level the playing field if you’re a single person is to use a life insurance plan to distribute your assets. We will help you to put your life insurance into an irrevocable trust so you will know that the trust will provide needed funds if beneficiaries have to pay off any remaining debt and taxes on your estate when you pass.

Certain Estate Planning Documents Are Even More Essential if You’re Single

If you are unmarried and have no children, it is all the more important to have a will naming your beneficiaries. This is because if a married person dies intestate (without a will) in Massachusetts, their estate will be divided according to state law among their spouse and children. 

However, if you are single and childless and die intestate in Massachusetts, the state will make your closest living relative (perhaps a distant cousin you’ve never met) your beneficiary, even if your best friend has stood by you until the end. This is why it’s so important to work with your estate planning attorney to make a legally binding will naming your primary beneficiaries whether of not they are blood relatives.

Other essential estate planning documents for a single person include:

  • Durable power of attorney for finances
  • Health care power of attorney (health care proxy)
  • Living will
  • HIPAA release form

These documents are particularly important for single people since they will prove which people you trust to learn the details of your health condition and carry out your wishes regarding your finances, your healthcare, and your end-of-life decisions.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Today

At Surprenant & Beneski, we are dedicated to doing what is best for you no matter what your age or marital status. We understand the importance of your independence and how to protect it when it comes to planning your future. Contact us so we can begin creating an estate plan customized to meet your unique needs.