The notion of the "traditional" American nuclear family composed of a father, a mother and their children is far from the norm in the 21st century. Today, there are many single citizens as well as people in untraditional marriages. There are also blended, or "patchwork" families that may consist of remarried couples with children from one or more prior marriages.
While assuring that estate documents are in place for a person in a traditional family is important, it may be even more important for a single person or a member of a nontraditional family to have these documents in place. Estate planning helps to assure that a person's wishes are carried out. It is important that a single person designate a trusted friend or relative to make her or his monetary decisions and fulfill obligations through a financial power of attorney. To make end-of-life medical decisions, a close friend or family member could be entrusted with a medical directive.
Single persons may have close friends who are more like family to them than blood family. In a will, a single person may want to designate the beneficiaries of his or her earthly possessions. If no will is prepared, state intestacy laws tend to designate family members as the recipients of money and valuable items, which may not reflect the desires of the deceased person.
To protect his or her financial interests, medical decisions anddistribution of assets, a single person may benefit from legal guidance to assure that the proper documents are prepared, signed and filed. The same advantage exists for a person with a patchwork family who may want to control the allocation of particular assets to specific heirs.