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Many older people who are looking into estate planning already know who their primary beneficiaries will be, usually their children. However, there are significant numbers of older individuals who are married without children or who are single and do not have children. For them, planning for their estate administration will require additional considerations regarding designating beneficiaries. Also, children are normally the designated caregivers in case one is incapacitated, which is not an option for older Maryland individuals without children.

The first thing one should do when planning for possibly being incapacitated is to think over carefully who is trustworthy enough to make decisions while one is not able to do so for himself or herself. This will include making medical decisions, housing arrangements and dealing with financial affairs. Commonly, the people entrusted with this responsibility are a spouse, relative or sibling. One should be sure to discuss with the designated person all issues regarding his or her responsibilities.

Also, there are various legal instruments which will be important in preparing if one becomes incapacitated. A healthcare proxy, which is also called a healthcare power-of-attorney, legally empowers a designated person to make healthcare decisions when one is incapacitated. A durable power-of-attorney is another legal instrument that enables a designated person to deal with financial affairs if an individual is unable to do so.

After dealing with the possibility of incapacitation, one will be able to continue with planning the other aspects of estate administration in Maryland. One of the issues that needs to be decided includes planning exactly how assets are to be distributed and to whom. Also, tax considerations should be considered in order to save intended beneficiaries from unnecessary expenses. Knowing the current estate planning laws will help in making these necessary decisions.

Source: The Daily News, "Aging and estate planning for singles, couples without kids", , July 4, 2014

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