An estimated 18 million people over the age of 65 are single. Many of them may be widows and widowers who live here in Nevada. For those who are not remarried, any estate planning that was done while married needs to be updated to accommodate the individual’s single status.
During marriage, many couples leave their estates to each other. In addition, any powers of attorney for financial and medical affairs will have appointed the other spouse to act on the other person’s behalf in the event of incapacitation. Now that a widow or widower no longer has a spouse, he or she needs to update or create new documents.
For instance, if powers of attorney are not changed, complications could easily arise in the event that the individual is no longer able to handle his or her affairs. Family members would be required to go to court to obtain the right to act on one’s behalf. Even when family members agree on who should be appointed, the process can take valuable time and resources while the individual’s health and assets languish.
If a will that left everything to the other spouse is not changed, family members will once again end up in court. The first hurdle would be who will serve as the executor of their loved one’s estate. After the court appoints someone, further confrontations could ensue over who will receive what assets. In the end, Nevada law will most likely make that determination, and it may not be in line with what the decedent would have preferred.
A widow or widower is in the unique position of understanding how valuable estate planning can be. It may be the last thing on a person’s mind after losing a spouse. However, it is something that needs to be handled in a timely manner in order to maintain control over how his or her affairs will be handled when the time comes.
Source: nasdaq.com, “Estate-Planning Essentials for Single People“, Carolyn T. Geer, Dec. 6, 2014