As an estate planning attorney, I receive all kinds of questions regarding passing on and protecting assets. Recently, I received a question from an older, single female. Jen is 57 years old, not married, has no children, and isn't close to any extended family members. For now, she manages her own assets and affairs, but she wanted to know how to structure an estate plan to ensure she and her estate are cared for should she become incapacitated. While she has a brother, she is unsure if he'll be in a position to look after her affairs in the future.
Changing Family Dynamics Mean Changing Estate Plans
As medical practices improve, people are living longer. According to CNN, an American single female (or married woman, for that matter) will have a life expectancy of 81 years. In addition, our social dynamic has changed, and “married with kids” is no longer the norm. In short, I am seeing more and more “solo agers,” especially that single female. And they aren't quite sure how to structure an estate plan to ensure they are cared for and their assets are passed on according to their wishes.
How a Single Female Can Protect Herself
In answer to Jen's questions, and to help any solo ager, I recommended that she create a revocable trust and name herself trustee for now. She can transfer all her assets into a trust and still manage her own affairs. In addition, she'll change the beneficiaries of her life insurance, annuities, and retirement plans to reflect her current wishes. For now, those assets go to her brother.
Last, but not least, as part of the revocable trust, I also recommended that she name a team of trustees—like her brother, an accountant or financial institution, and an attorney—who can take over and administer the trust in case something happens to her.
Have Estate Planning Questions?
If you are a single female and need to structure your estate plan to ensure your assets are properly cared for, contact us. We have more than 30 years of estate-planning experience to help you craft a plan that will work for you.