I have written many articles over the years offering advice on
estate planning, many of which were seemingly directed toward married individuals, though
that was not the intention. Estate planning is just as important to the
single individual as it is to the married one, but up until now, I haven’t
shed light on why.
For the single readers out there, I want you to know that your estate plan
is important and because you don’t have a spouse to inherit your
assets, it’s perhaps
even more important.
About half of the adult population is divorced, widowed, or never married,
so that’s a lot of singles. For the single folks, whether they’ve
never been married or they’re single all over again, they will have
some unique issues in regard to estate planning, starting with heirs,
which I explain below.
Singles Dying Intestate
If a single person dies without a will or trust, they are said to have
died “intestate.” When this happens, the decedent’s
assets are distributed to their closest blood relatives, starting with
their children (if any), followed by their parents (if they are still
alive), siblings (if any), and if none of the above, to their closest
living blood relatives. If the decedent is not survived by any blood relatives,
their assets will go to the state instead of to a beloved friend or a
If a married person dies without a will or a trust (intestate), it can
work because their assets will be distributed to their spouse and children,
but for a single person, it may not be workable at all. If the decedent
had a say in the matter, they may say, “No, I don’t want my
estate going to my father who left my mother when I was born, or my sister
who has been in and out of rehab for decades.”
A lot of my single clients are very involved in social issues and are philanthropically
active in one or more non-profit organizations. They often have charitable
plans for their money, but if they don’t create an estate plan,
all of their charitable efforts will die with them.
Some of the issues that need to be addressed by the single individual is a
will and/or a
revocable living trust,
beneficiary designations, heirs, and decision-makers to handle financial and medical affairs in
the event of incapacitation. If you’re reading to make your future
plans solid, I’d be honored to assist.
Creating an Estate Plan When You’re Elderly or Ill
Are you single?
Contact my Nashville estate planning firm to get started.