Items such as a home, a car or a bank account may be subject to probate if they are left in your estate when you die. In the event that you are married, your assets would likely transfer to your spouse either automatically or at the conclusion of a probate proceeding. Of course, even if you aren’t married, there are things that you can do to ensure that your final wishes are carried out.
Have a will or trust
You don’t need to be in a relationship to engage in basic estate planning. A will dictates how your assets are to be distributed after you die while a trust takes effect immediately. Therefore, it can be used to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated and need someone to do so on your behalf. A trust may also be ideal if you want to avoid probate or want to add a layer of privacy to your estate plan as its terms are not a matter of public record.
Add a power of attorney
If you don’t have a trust, you may want to consider adding a medical agent to your estate plan. This person will communicate your desires to your doctors or other medical professionals if you are unable to do so. You can also choose to add a financial agent to your estate plan to ensure that your bills are paid or assets are sold in a timely manner.
A power of attorney arrangement can either be durable or springing, which means that your agent takes over only in limited circumstances. For instance, your agent may take over if you are put under for surgery or are out of the country for several weeks.
Regardless of your relationship status, it’s critical to have some sort of estate plan in place. Doing so can help to ensure that your assets go to the right people or that you don’t lose your home or money in a bank account because you aren’t able to manage your finances properly while alive.