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How Single People can Take Control of their Future

How Single People can Take Control of their Future

Estate Planning Tips for Happy Singletons

This is an estate planning guide for single people - what you, as a happy singleton, can do to plan a secure future and a meaningful legacy.

If you’re single and don’t have kids, you are a member of one of the fastest growing demographic groups in modern society. Currently, 7.6 million British adults live alone, embracing freedom and independence as a long term lifestyle choice.

Being free from responsibility for others can lead you to believe that there’s no need for you to plan your long term future, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s important to take the long view and ask yourself a couple of fundamental questions: -

 

When I’m older – or if I were to get seriously ill – what would happen if I were unable to manage my own affairs and make decisions for myself? Who would I want to be there for me and speak up for me? How can I ensure that they have the power to do that?

 

After I’m gone, what will my legacy be? What will happen to the assets I leave behind, such as my home and my savings? What do I want to happen? How can I make it happen?

 

Having maintained your independence in your day to day life, you can choose to take practical action to ensure that your assets are protected and your wishes are respected come what may.

 

Someone who’s Got your Back

If you’ve embraced the single lifestyle, the chances are that you have a circle of good friends who are your “family of choice”. Friendship is a beautiful thing, and it’s so great to have “3am friends”, the people you can call in the early hours of the morning when it’s pouring with rain, you’ve got a flat tyre and you’re far from home, who you know will come and get you. These are the people who’ll be straight round with Lemsip and chocolate when you’re under the duvet, full of flu.

These good friends are the people you can rely on to speak up for you if you can’t speak up for yourself. So a really positive decision you can make, in the interests of your own long-term security and well-being, is to create a Lasting Power of Attorney, making their role as your supporter in times of crisis, official.

When you make a Lasting Power of Attorney, you officially appoint at least one person as your Attorney, giving them authority to make decisions for you if the worst should happen. Couples and parents often choose their partners and children to be their Attorneys, but for you as a single person, the ideal choice is likely to be your 3am friend – or friends.

 

Your Wishes Respected

You can appoint an attorney to take care of your property and financial affairs. It’s something you do in advance, so they have the power to look after your money if the need should ever arise. This is such a powerful safety net. It means that, if you’re ever rendered helpless, your friend can immediately bypass all the “data protection”, “computer-says-no” obstacles thrown up by officialdom, and speak on your behalf to banks, insurance companies, pension providers etc, to make sure the right financial arrangements can be made for you.

When it comes to the more personal issues concerning your health, lifestyle and welfare, you may feel fiercely protective of your autonomy, having embraced independence and self-reliance in your daily life. The idea of strangers, such as social workers and medical professionals, making decisions “in your best interests” without fully consulting you, probably makes you shudder. The most effective safeguard against this kind of interference is to appoint your 3am friend as your attorney for health and welfare.

The process of making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney has to involve your friend from the beginning, because they have to sign a document confirming that they accept the responsibility. This is the cue for a frank conversation with your friend, when you can be completely open with them about your wishes. Then you can be confident that your friend is equipped to ensure your wishes are respected if and when the times comes.

You can reinforce this with an Advance Directive – a Living Will – which states in black and white exactly what care and treatment you will and won’t consent to in case you lose the ability to think or speak for yourself. Most living wills broadly say that your comfort, dignity and freedom from pain must take precedence over everything else. You can add as much or as little detail as you like, depending on how deeply you’ve thought about this and what decisions you’ve made.

 

Your Legacy

Although you don’t have kids or a partner to provide for, that doesn’t mean you needn’t bother making a will. In fact, making a will can be an even more important priority for you as a single person. This is because the Intestacy Rules – the rules that state who will inherit if you don’t have a will – are designed mainly with married couples and parents in mind. The rules rarely suit the preferences of a single person.

If you don’t have a spouse or children, the intestacy rules say that your relatives should inherit, and there is a pecking order as to who would inherit from you. If your parents outlive you, they will inherit from you. In the absence of your parents, it would be your siblings, or your nephews and nieces. If you don’t have siblings, nephews or nieces, more distant relatives will inherit. These may be people you’ve had very little connection or relationship with in your day to day life.

Sadly, the intestacy rules don’t make any provision for your friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, godchildren or favourite charity.

And if you don’t have relatives who qualify to inherit under the intestacy rules, your assets actually go to the government. There is a government department, the sinister-sounding Bona Vacantia Division, responsible for seizing the assets of deceased people who don’t have a will or qualifying relatives. They’re so enthusiastic about their role that they even quibble over things like paying for your funeral flowers, your wake and your headstone!

So, making a will is your way of taking control of what happens to your assets after you’ve gone. And again, this is where your 3am friends come in, because the people closest to you, who you trust to carry out your wishes, are the ideal choice for the role of executor of your will.

 

The quest for meaning is one of our deepest emotional needs in life. As a single person, giving some thought to your estate plan, and taking action, is a practical way of meeting that need for yourself. For more information about taking control of your long term future, just give us a call on 0151 601 5399, or complete the contact form below – we’re here to help you make sure your wishes are respect and your legacy is protected.  

"Can I just say on behalf of Paula, Peter, myself & our children, a huge thank you for everything. You have always listened, and been a friend as well. Thanks Gina, for your professionalism, compassion and support, we really appreciate everything you have done for us."

Angela Kearns & Family

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