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Estate Planning for Singles

Preparing for the Future

No matter your life circumstances, estate planning provides an important opportunity to prepare yourself and your loved ones for the future. Here, we talk with Evan Russell, a financial advisor with Raymond James Round Table Advisors, to understand this process and some specific needs that unmarried individuals might have.

Documentation Demystified

Put simply, estate planning is a process of collecting comprehensive, legally valid documents that outline your wishes for the management of your home, assets, and personal healthcare. From initial assessments and consultations to document drafting and signing, this process can take a few months to complete. Maintaining an effective filing system can be a big help as you begin this process. “Keeping documents like property deeds, marriage certificates, and business agreements organized and accessible is crucial for a comprehensive estate plan,” says Russell. He also advises keeping track of login information, so you and your advisors can tackle estate planning without the added stress of forgotten passwords.

There is no perfect age at which to begin this process, Russell says. “When you start accumulating assets such as real estate or investments, it’s important to consider what happens to these assets after you are gone.” Without a valid will delegating your wishes, there is a risk that the probate court will make decisions regarding your estate that you wouldn’t want. 

illustration of single woman doing estate planning

Estate planning allows you to control this process, and in lack of a surviving spouse, it’s important to identify trustworthy individuals who will oversee the management and distribution of your estate. Russell recommends choosing someone who is organized and financially responsible, “while also considering factors such as proximity and emotional resilience to effectively navigate the complexities of estate administration.”

Minimize Additional Costs

While estate planning might require some fees for drafting documents and notarization, this prevents greater expenses down the road. “Without an estate plan, potential costs may arise from taxes, probate, legal disputes among heirs, and guardianship proceedings for incapacitated individuals,” says Russell. The probate process can take several months, and legal expenses can amass quickly in the absence of a valid will. Having a current, valid estate plan will relieve the pressure of this process. It’s important to update your documentation to align with changing life circumstances, Russell says, and “to communicate your intentions clearly to avoid potential disputes.”

Set Up for Success

Another major advantage of estate planning is that you are able to make decisions that can support your loved ones and dependents in your absence. “Creating a trust,” Russell says, “offers the opportunity to guide how your assets are used after your passing, especially when beneficiaries are of a younger age.” Russell notes that properly structured life insurance policies can also help provide financial security for designated beneficiaries. It’s advisable to name both primary and contingent beneficiaries, which could include friends, family members, or charities you’d like to support. Keep in mind that this can be revised down the line, so if you’re unsure, go ahead and list someone as a beneficiary and update it as necessary.

Estate planning will also include healthcare directives, which dictate your wishes for medical treatments. This is especially important for unmarried individuals, as there may not be family members readily authorized to assist in care. Healthcare planning may include budgeting for potential long-term care treatments and designating individuals to make medical decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself. This ensures that your potential medical needs are met and relieves some of the strain put on your loved ones to make difficult choices. The good news is that no one has to tackle this process alone. Russell adds, “Consulting with professionals can help navigate these complexities and ensure your estate plan aligns with your evolving needs and intentions.”

Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Round Table Advisors is not a registered broker/ dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Evan Russell

Evan Russell

Financial Advisor, Round Table Advisors Raymond James

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