Single Women and Estate Planning

If you’re a single woman without children, you may be wondering whether estate planning is something you need to be concerned about. The truth is, estate planning is something that everyone should consider, at least to some extent. When putting together your estate plan, there are two key things you need to consider:

  1. Who is going to take care of your assets when you are no longer able to do so?
  2. Who will make health related decisions if you’re unable to make them for yourself?

Taking Care of Your Trust

When you don’t have any heirs or next of kin to leave your trust to, you’ll need to decide where you want your funds to go. More importantly, you will need to select a trust administrator to handle the assets in your trust and make sure they go to the people or organizations you want to support after you pass away.

This person will help you to invest your money, make payments to beneficiaries when the time comes, and earmark your funds for specific uses in accordance with your wishes. For example, if you have a pet and want to ensure that they’re cared for in the event that you can’t take care of them any more, you can set up a trust where the funds are earmarked for their care and keeping. Your trust administrator can help you to coordinate this.

Although you can act as a trust administrator for your own living trust, it still makes sense to find a trust administrator. You never want to be in a position where you’re unable to control your assets, but don’t have anyone else legally permitted to step in and execute your wishes.  This could be a designated family member, friend, attorney or other trusted advisor.

Health Care Power of Attorney

It’s critical to have a health care power of attorney as a single woman. We all have wishes that we hope are carried out if we’re unable to make decisions about our medical care. For a single woman, this may feel as though you’re putting someone in an awkward position - after all, nobody wants to have to ask a close friend to make a drastic decision about whether or not to resuscitate you in the event of a medical emergency. Luckily, there are a few different options:

  1. Think about a living will. Your living will can clearly define what you want to happen in a worst case scenario, including a health directive. This can help to take some of the burden off your friends or family in an already emotionally trying time.
  2. Ask a trusted friend or family member. The key is to select someone who can ask challenging questions, and stand their ground in a medical emergency.

Having a plan in place to take care of your finances and your health as a single woman is a critical part of your estate plan. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your interests are carefully protected. Putting legal systems in place to do that can help to ease any worry that your wishes won’t be carried out if you can’t voice them.  Your financial advisor may be able to help you work through your goals and provide referrals to the appropriate resources.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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