You don’t want to be struck down with an illness and have your preferences unknown.
Even if you are single, you don’t want to be left with your healthcare in question should you become suddenly ill, according to Morningstar in “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider.” How do you prepare for such an event? The answer is a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
People who don’t have children or a married spouse, often think they don’t need any kind of estate plan. However, the truth is, they do. For singles, power of attorney, medical power of attorney and a living will are especially important.
What is a Living Will? A living will is sometimes called an advance medical directive. It details your wishes, if you are in a situation where life-sustaining treatment is the only way to keep you alive. Would you want to remain on a respirator, have a feeding tube or have other extreme measures used? It’s not pleasant to think about. However, this is an opportunity for you to make this decision on your own behalf, for a possible future date when you won’t be able to convey your wishes. Some people want to stay alive, no matter what. Others would prefer to turn off any artificial means of life support.
This spares your loved ones from having to guess about what you might like to have happen.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare? This is a legal document that gives a person you name the ability to make decisions about healthcare for you if you can’t. To some people, this matters more than a living will, because the durable power of attorney for healthcare can convey your wishes in situations, where you are not terminally ill, but incapacitated.
Find someone you trust, whose judgment you respect, and have a long, serious talk with them. Talk about your preferences for blood transfusions, organ transplants, disclosure about your medical records and more. Doctors have a hard time when a group of relatives and friends are all trying to help, if there is no one person who has been named as your power of attorney for healthcare.
What else does a single person need? The documents listed above are just part of an estate plan, not the whole thing. A single person should have a will, so that they can determine who they want to receive their assets upon death. They should also check on their beneficiary designations from time to time, so any insurance policies, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and any other assets that allow beneficiary designations are going to the correct person. Some accounts also do not permit non-spouses as beneficiaries. As unfair as this is, it does exist.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and can include crucial documents that you may need some day.
Reference: Morningstar (April 23, 2019) “2 Estate-Planning Tools That Singles Should Consider”