People who have never been married often face more difficult estate planning decisions than people with families.
For married people, the basics of who gets what after they pass away is usually fairly obvious. Most married people want the bulk of their estates to go to their spouses, children and grandchildren.
Similarly, most married people will grant a spouse or child the authority to act as a medical power of attorney and a general durable power of attorney. However, as the New York Times points out in “Estate Planning for the Never-Married” these decisions are not as obvious for people who have never been married and who have never had children, especially if they live far away from their closest relatives.
Deciding who gets what property after a single person passes away is a matter of understanding the laws of intestacy. If a single person passes away without an estate plan, then those laws dictate that the closest surviving relatives will inherit.
Normally, that means parents and siblings will receive the estate, but if none of them is still alive then the law can get complicated. For this reason single people will want to have estate plans so they can choose who gets what after they pass away.
Granting someone power of attorney in the event of incapacitation can be more difficult. Most people would prefer to appoint family members. However, if no family lives nearby, then often a trusted friend or partner might need to be appointed.
As our friends and partners often change over time single people usually need to change their choices every few years.
If you have never been married, visit with an elder law attorney about getting the right kind of estate plan for you.
Reference: New York Times (Nov. 11, 2015) “Estate Planning for the Never-Married”
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