What is an “Adult Orphan”? It is an adult with no spouse, no children and no close relatives. They may live with another person but choose to remain unmarried. We encounter these folks in our practice often. There are many of them in retirement states such as Arizona. And, when it comes to planning for their futures, there are often special needs. This is so because there is no spouse or child who can step in and help in the event of an illness, accident or mental incapacity. There is no one who a health care provider will even allow to visit in many cases.
A person who has a family, even where no planning has been done, often has emergency back-up. In the event of a death, Arizona Statutes designate who inherits. But for someone who is alone, there is no emergency back-up. Heirs at law may not exist or might not be found. Indeed, there may be no one to be notified of the death; no one to even search for heirs.
Estate planning is important for everyone. But for Adult Orphans, estate planning is critical. The most urgent need is to have documents that will help during a period of illness or injury. These documents are a General Durable Power of Attorney, a Health and Mental Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will or other Health Care Directive. It can be important to identify persons that are authorized to visit in a hospital or other health care facility. With no close next of kin, visitors–including a significant other–might be refused. Financial institutions should be consulted. They may have their own forms of Power of Attorney that they will want used.
Another helpful long term planning tool is a Revocable Living Trust. A Trust has the advantages of privacy and probate avoidance and can, along with your Powers of Attorney, eliminate the need for a court ordered Guardianship or Conservatorship. You can specify in detail your wishes in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. Support for a significant other can continue. Assets needed for your care are not tied up and can be accessed quickly by your successor trustee, a person that you choose and trust.
We have encountered several Clients who have no person that can be trusted. Where this happens, a professional fiduciary is often a good choice. Or select a financial advisor, CPA or Attorney that you have a relationship with and have your Trust Estate bear the cost.
The baby boomer generation is starting to reach old age and the numbers of Adult Orphans are increasing. A comprehensive long-term plan is an important step in maintaining control, independence and dignity.
If you need help with estate planning or another family legal matter, contact one of our experienced attorneys to assist you.
Use the form below or call 602-277-4441 today to schedule a free consultation.
Platt and Westby, P.C. has offices in Phoenix and Gilbert, Arizona.