If you have no spouse or minor children, you might think that estate planning for single people like you isn’t important or relevant. That’s just simply not true. Creating an estate plan is still beneficial and vitally important even if you are single.
Why is Estate Planning Important for Single People?
An estate plan outlines what happens both while you are still alive in addition to specifically what happens to your assets after you pass away. These important functions apply regardless of whether you are single or married.
If a single individual were to become incapacitated for any reason (e.g., age, an accident, etc.), they would need someone to help make important decisions on their behalf. This includes executing the wishes outlined in the person’s healthcare directives, or living will, as stipulated in their estate plan.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that allows an individual to state one’s preferences regarding end-of-life medical care. A living will can ensure that a person has some control over the medical treatment they receive in situations when they might be unable to communicate their preferences.
A living will allows an individual to decide in advance:
- If they wish to be given life-sustaining treatments, such as heart-lung machines, ventilators, and the like
- If they wish to be given food and water via tube feeding
- What other medical directions they may wish for that would impact their care, including end of life
Additionally, an individual might choose to include more than one person to help with the management of their financial assets via power of attorney designations. These contingencies are planned for when discussing estate planning for single clients.
What Happens to a Single Person’s Assets if They Pass Away Without a Will?
When a person passes away, having an estate plan ensures that their assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes. However, in the event of an individual passing away without a will their assets would be distributed according to the state’s intestacy statutes, which are laws that determine what happens when an individual passes away without a will.
Generally speaking, these intestacy statutes provide that all of the decedent’s assets are distributed to their closest living relatives. For single individuals, this would include siblings, parents, and—depending on the state—nieces/nephews. If there are no living relatives of the decedent present or eligible to receive their assets, then the assets would be distributed according to a set order of succession.
What an Estate Planning Firm Can Do For You
Regardless of marital status, everyone should consider creating and establishing an estate plan. If you want to have some control over what will happen to your assets after you pass away, an estate planning firm can help you assemble an estate plan that best suits your needs.
If you have questions about living wills, powers of attorney, or estate planning in general, give us a call now for a no-obligation consultation of your case.