Half a century ago, reaching middle age without getting married made a person unusual. Today, being a single adult is totally normal: in 2016, 110.6 million American adults were unmarried, according to Census data. As happily single adults know, remaining unmarried means you get to call all the shots like where you vacation or what you eat for dinner, and saves you from awkward in-law issues. But there’s one major rite of passage that singlehood won’t protect you from: estate planning for single adults is essential.
In fact, being single might make estate planning even more important for you than it is for your married friends. Without a spouse to inherit your money and property, you’re going to need to be specific about what you want to happen to your hard-earned assets.
If a single person dies intestate, or without a will, the state decides what happens to his or her assets. Here in Massachusetts, a complex set of guidelines determines who inherits the property of someone single who dies intestate. Inheritance happens along bloodlines. Without a spouse, first a person’s property would go to children. If there are no children, it goes to the parents of the deceased. Without surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings inherit. And with no surviving siblings, the person’s next of kin gets the inheritance.
So if you don’t have kids, parents or siblings alive at the time of your death, your property and money could pass to a distant cousin, the children of a half sibling or some relative you’ve never met instead of going to a treasured friend or charitable organization.
“But I do have kids/siblings/cherished relatives, and I would want them to inherit,” you might think. Even if you like the way Massachusetts intestacy laws work, you still need to do some estate planning. The process is about much more than creating a will. It’s also about appointing a healthcare proxy and establishing power of attorney.
If you’re in an accident and can’t make your own decisions about your medical care, who would you want to make those decisions on your behalf? Who would you trust to oversee your finances and care for your dependents while you’re unable to do it yourself? Would your home be protected from creditors? Who would take care of your pets, and would there be money in place to pay for their needs? During the estate planning process, you get to make those choices. It’s a way of setting up your own future support system.
It’s no wonder that many single people die without having created wills or having planned for their estates. Most of us don’t like to think about end-of-life planning. And yet, there’s no denying that it’s inevitable. Make your wishes known now – then get on with living your life, secure in the knowledge that you’re ready for whatever happens down the road.
Ladimer Law can help with estate planning for single adults, from creating a will and durable power of attorney to setting up trust funds and pet trusts to take care of all your loved ones. Contact us today!
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.