If you are single, then you are in good company.
According to the most recent U.S. Census, more than half of all adult Americans are single, too.
Whether you just turned 18 or are 118 one thing you share with your married counterparts is the need for essential estate planning.
[For some background reading on fundamental estate planning for newly-minted adults, read an interview I gave to Susan Garland in Kiplinger’s Retirement Report titled Your Young-Adult Kids Need an Estate Plan.]
Even if you do not have two dimes to rub together, you are your estate.
Who would make your basic decisions if you are legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness?
Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you.
The probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your loved ones.
While the formal name for this probate process is a guardianship and conservatorship, we affectionately refer to it as the lawyer full-employment program.
Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan?
Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your loved ones and assets.
If all this sounds like something you would want to avoid, then contact an experienced estate planning attorney as one of your first new year's resolutions to get the ball rolling.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.