Man working on estate planning documents

Estate Planning Priorities for Singles

According to Pew Research Center, nearly a third of U.S. adults are single, yet in many ways this population is underserved. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., our estate planning attorneys understand the distinct needs of single clients, and tailor our services to meet them. If you are a single person who resides in Southeastern Massachusetts and is seeking assistance with wills and trusts, probate, elder law, asset protection, business succession or other matters pertaining to estate planning, contact us for the personalized, conscientious attention you deserve. 

We have the experience and well-developed skills to help you focus on the following estate planning priorities for singles, especially those who have no close relatives:

1. Documents that don’t pertain to the disposition of property are always important, even more so if you live alone and do not have children. We will make sure you have the documents you need to see you through a health crisis, including a health care proxy, living will, HIPAA consent form, and financial power of attorney. These documents will be invaluable if you become incapacitated and unable to make (or voice) decisions regarding your medical care and your finances. 

2. Long-term care insurance or some other plan to pay for long-term care is also a priority for singles. While everyone has to consider this matter, singles who may not have family members to take over the planning or management of funds are potentially more vulnerable if they require long-term care. Our compassionate attorneys will help you prepare to fund care you may one day need and will help you to protect both your assets and your eligibility for Medicaid

3. Making a will is critical. The risks of dying intestate (without a will) may be even more extreme for a single person without close family. When you die without a will, state law determines how your property will be distributed. If you have children, your assets will be evenly distributed among them. However, if you have no children, your property will go to your “closest” (even if distant) relative, a person you may not know, like, or even be aware of. This makes having a will that clearly states your intentions essential. Alternatively, you may create a revocable trust.

4. Creating a revocable trust is typically an even better solution. Once you create a revocable trust and transfer titles of your homes, cars, financial accounts, and other assets to that trust, your property will go where you intend without complication. If you have no close relative or friend to name as a trustee, you can choose a trusted professional, like an attorney or an accountant to manage the trust.

5. Naming beneficiaries for assets that aren’t part of the trust is still necessary. As a single person, you have to complete beneficiary designation forms for your IRA, 401k, retirement plans, annuities, and life insurance. It is also important to inform your executor and the beneficiaries know about these decisions.

6. Use annual gift tax exclusions to limit tax liability. Although as a single you do not have the advantage of the marital deduction to reduce either the estate or gift tax, you can and should use the annual gift tax exclusion, $16,000 in 2022 ($17,000 in 2023), to make gifts to anyone you choose.

7. Charitable contributions may be primary beneficiaries for singles. Singles without children frequently make substantial, even sustaining, contributions to charities they support. Our estate planning attorneys will assist you in creating a charitable lead trust (CLT), a Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT), a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA), or a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) as a significant part of your legacy.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning for Singles Attorneys Today

At Surprenant & Beneski, our caring attorneys are well-prepared to help you plan for the future with strategies tailored to your single status and your lifestyle. Contact us now to reap the benefits of lawyers who put you first.