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3 Critical Steps to Estate Planning for the Unmarried and Childless

Posted on: September 14th, 2017

For more than 30 years our estate planning attorneys in Chapel Hill, North Carolina have helped people establish valid estate plans, wills, and trusts. Do not get taken in by the fancy legal terms – estate planning can be a relatively simple process that helps you get your finances and items of value in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your family does not have to contend with unnecessary complications when the time comes. Estate planning for young adults is a quick and usually inexpensive process that leaves you feeling empowered. Here are important steps along the path of estate planning for the young, healthy, and childless.

Step 1. Preparing the last will and testament  

Most younger adults assume that writing a will can be left to the later years of life. However, it is prudent for all individuals to create a simple legal will to ensure that one’s assets are handed over only to one’s chosen beneficiaries.  If you do not create a last will and testament, the court has the right to distribute your wealth and assets to siblings or parents, even if you are married. Writing a will is of paramount importance if one would rather have a girl/boyfriend, other family member, or charitable organization get the estate.

The actual process of writing a will can be a simple one, and e many people may be tempted to utilize one of the many one-size-fits-all DIY will-writing options that are currently available.  However, as the American Bar Association cautions, a poorly drafted DIY will based on online templates that do not have updated federal and state tax guidelines could open the doors to tax issues and will contestations by surviving family members in the future.

Engaging the services of experienced legal counsel to prepare a will ensures that it will be valid in your state of residence and compliant with applicable tax laws. Our estate planning attorneys based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina have made drafting your will easy and convenient. Through one scheduled in-person or phone consultation, we can help you avoid the pitfalls of online templates and ensure your estate is passed onto your intended beneficiaries.

Step 2. Planning for healthcare and drafting a living will

A sudden, unavoidable, and severe accident is a possibility in all walks of life and for people of all ages. Having documents in place that authorize individuals to make medical decisions for you and that define healthcare needs in certain circumstances is perhaps more necessary for an active young adult than elderly people. These are the two documents that need to be included in one’s estate plan.

Though the name sounds similar, a living will is completely different from a last will and testament. A living will enshrines one’s wishes and demands pertaining to end-of-life healthcare. In this document, an individual can spell out his or her wishes in the event of a life-threatening illness or accident. For example, it could provide detailed instructions about whether one would like to be resuscitated via CPR or other measures, the type and extent of pain relief one would like, etc.

A health care power of attorney allows authorized individuals to make medical decisions pertaining to the individual’s life and health if he or she is incapacitated. In the case of a severe accident, these documents could help your family make healthcare decisions in accordance with your wishes.

Step 3. Adding a beneficiary to your 401(k)

Many young adults are likely to have even a small retirement account or 401(k) in place through their employer. While it is extremely important to ensure that a beneficiary is designated to receive the accounts upon your death, the process is straightforward. Simply add the name of the beneficiary to the 401(k) nomination form that the employer or custodian of 401(k) account supplies. If you need to revise the beneficiary designation at a later date, the process is as simple as submitting another updated form.

Estate planning of some sort is necessary for everyone. Even if one has limited assets, planning your estate ensures that medical and financial decisions are carried out in accordance to personal wishes. Proper planning with the help of a reputed estate planning attorney in North Carolina has a number of potential benefits, including peace of mind that one’s financial future and healthcare wishes are in capable hands.

 

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