As someone who genuinely enjoys cooking meals for just myself (perhaps because I generally cook for my family and not myself), I was super excited to learn about the publication of chef Anita Lo’s new cookbook Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One, featuring recipes for the solo diner. With all due respect to the Beatles, eating alone, like living alone, does not have to be lonely.
For people who do not have a life partner and do not have kids, it is essential to complete estate planning documents such as a Health Care Directive, a General Durable Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, Memorial Instructions, and a Will. Having an estate plan when you are single allows you to nominate someone to act on your behalf if you are alive but lack the capacity to make financial or medical decisions on your own behalf, and also to direct the distribution of your assets when you die. There are special considerations for a single person to take into account in the estate planning process.
For example, fiduciary nominations should be given serious thought. A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person, such as an Attorney-in-Fact under a durable power of attorney, or a personal representative nominated in a Will. For someone without a life partner or children, other family members or friends may be called into service as fiduciaries. Being a fiduciary carries tremendous responsibility. For some folks, there may not be an obvious choice for who to nominate as a fiduciary in their estate planning documents. It may make sense to consider nominating a professional fiduciary to serve in that capacity. Whether nominating a friend, a family member, or a professional fiduciary, it is always a good idea to discuss your decision with the individual(s) you nominate so that you have confirmation that they are willing to serve, if necessary, and so that they are prepared to act on your behalf when necessary.
In addition, decisions regarding estate distribution may not be clear-cut for a single person without close family. Friends, more distant relatives, and charitable organizations, in varying combinations, may be designated as estate beneficiaries. Further, a single person with pets should consider how to provide for the care of their pets if are they no longer able to do so due to illness, injury, or death.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that your estate planning should never be done alone. Rather, you should work with an estate planning attorney to discuss your options and make informed decisions regarding the estate planning process. If you are single and have questions regarding your estate planning, we invite you to contact us. We’re happy to help!
Photo Credit: Nicole De Khors on Burst