This is an article from Parman & Easterday (www.parmanlaw.com) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that we thought others may find helpful.
Estate planning lawyers help many different types of people in various family situations make plans to protect their future and provide for their loved ones. There are many different types of legal tools that an experienced attorney can help you use to create a plan that best fits your situation. A good estate planning attorney can provide you with advice on the tools that are right for you, whether you are single or married.
Many people assume that it is most important for a married person to create a last will and testament and a comprehensive estate plan since they have a spouse that is counting on them. While it is vital for a person who is married to make an estate plan, so they can take steps like making sure they have enough insurance in case they pass away unexpectedly and leave their spouse without enough money to pay the bills, it is also essential for someone who is single to plan. In fact, in some ways, it can be even more important for a person who does not have a spouse to make an estate plan.
Why Do Single People Need an Estate Plan?
There are a few key reasons why it is so important for single people to have an estate plan. Some of these reasons include:
- You need to make a plan to avoid estate tax: Someone who is married can leave assets to his or her spouse to avoid estate tax. Assets can be passed on tax-free to a husband or a wife, no matter the size of the estate. However, if you have a larger estate and wish to leave money or property to someone other than your spouse – which you will need to do if you are not married – you need to plan to avoid losing a lot of your wealth to the government.
- You need to specify who should inherit. Intestacy laws will apply to dictate who inherits your money and property after you pass away. If you are married, these laws default to allowing your spouse to inherit some or all of your estate. If you’re not married, intestacy law still makes it possible for assets to be left to close family members, but those family members may not necessarily be the ones YOU would’ve chosen to inherit your assets.
- You need to address guardianship issues. When you’re married, if something happens to you, your spouse will likely continue to care for shared pets and shared children. If you are not married however, you may need a plan for who will take care of your pets if something should happen to you. If your child’s other parent is not involved in the child’s life, you may also need a plan for who would take custody of your kids if something happened before you became an adult.
- You need to address incapacity: If something happens to you, there is no spouse to make decisions on your behalf and manage your property and assets. You need to specify who should oversee your affairs when you can no longer act on your own. Otherwise, one of your family members will be forced to go to court and the judge will decide who is in charge of managing your affairs.
When you are single, your estate planning attorney can help you take the necessary control over end-of-life issues and over your legacy. They can help you as your life changes and evolves and work with you to make the plans that are right for you.