Why single people need a will, too

Why do single or non-married people, young people, or people with few assets need a will? Great question- and one that deserves fair analysis. A will does more than establish what happens to your property if something should happen to you. Your will sets out what happens while you're still living. This includes a durable power of attorney, a health-care proxy, and a living will. 

 1. A durable power of attorney arranges for someone to handle financial matters on your behalf. You may choose to have an active financial power of attorney set up in case something happens to you or you're out of town. This is a popular precaution among couples, says Shae Irving, a legal expert and writer for Nolo. Or, you could stipulate that it only go into effect when a doctor certifies that you have become incapacitated. Without this legal form, your spouse, parents, siblings or live-in partner would have to petition a court for the right to handle things for you. All you need to do to set up a financial durable power of attorney is select a friend or family member you trust to act as your "agent," complete a fill-in-the-blank form and sign it in front of a notary public for a small fee. Many states provide free forms.

2. A health-care proxy, or a durable power of attorney for health care, appoints a person to make medical decisions for you if you can't do so yourself. This includes the power to consent to your doctor to give, withhold or stop any medical treatment, service or procedure, including life-sustaining procedures. Unmarried couples should also state that each partner be allowed to visit the other in the hospital in case there is a "family only" rule. (Get advice on choosing your health care agent from the legal experts at Nolo.com.)

3. A living will spells out the kinds of medical treatment you do and do not want if you are unable to speak for yourself. It generally applies only if a person is terminally ill and faces imminent death -- or if he or she is in a persistent vegetative state. You should share your wishes with your doctor and the person you selected as your health care proxy. Although this can be a contentious issue, it's much more likely that your wishes will be followed if you have a living will.

Content from Kiplinger