However, the truth is that estate planning for single individuals is just as important, and sometimes more complex, than planning for married couples. With the single population in the United States growing from about one-third of the total population in 1970 to almost one-half of the population today, many more people are affected. So whether you’ve always been single or you’re newly single, here are some things to consider in your estate plan.
As a result, a single decedent’s solely owned assets may wind up in places they did not want or intend. If you have children, they would inherit first. If not, there is a descending list of persons entitled to inherit your assets, parents, siblings and then more distant relatives, in that order. If no living relatives can be located, the assets would pass to the state. Left out of this equation is an unmarried partner, close friend or favorite charity.
The same general advice applies to many other questions such as who will be appointed as your Personal Representative (the executor), do you wish to be buried or cremated, who is responsible for paying any taxes that occur as a result of your death and what happens to debt that survives you. Therefore, it’s best to clearly specify your intentions in a written Last Will &Testament.
Another extremely important question to consider that many often overlook is who will manage your care and/or your financial matters should you become disabled. It’s probably safe to say that you do not want these decisions made by a distant relative or a stranger appointed by the state.
Furthermore, if you are divorced or widowed, it’s vital to make certain beneficiary designations on your insurance as well as ensure all accounts are updated to show information is in accordance with your current wishes.
Lastly, it’s imperative that you keep in mind that the options available for estate tax planning in regard to being single are more limited than for married couples, which requires great care and understanding of the differences.
So whether you’re newly single or always have been, understand the special circumstances that apply to you. You should consult an experienced estate-planning advisor.