Singles have unique needs when it comes to estate planning; for them, deciding how to distribute their assets is just as important as it is for those who are married. Normally, when single people die without a will, their estate will pass into the hands of their closest relative. Additional complications arise if there are no surviving family members. Whether you've never married or are widowed or divorced, there are a few practical considerations to keep in mind when creating a will or trust to be sure your decisions are honored.
- Representatives. Designate a close friend or family member to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated due to declining health or some other incident. This person should have power of attorney in managing your assets and be able to make healthcare decisions for you if needed. If you don't select someone for this role, it might be left to a distant relative or a state-appointed guardian.
- Heirs. While married people's assets typically revert to a surviving spouse if there is no will, single people's estates go to next in line to the children. If there are no children then parents, siblings, or other relatives become default heirs. Otherwise, assets can become the property of the state.
- Beneficiaries. When opening a retirement plan or other account, enrollees often have to designate a beneficiary. Such designations are usually upheld when the account-holder dies, even if the deceased bequeathed the account to some one else in their will. Therefore, you should review all beneficiary-designations, especially if you're widowed or divorced, to make sure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
It is best to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney as you review your will. For professional legal assistance, contact the team at Gerkin & Decker, PC Brighton. From estate planning to business lawyers, we have a team ready to help in your planning. Contact us today for a consultation.