It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that the group of people who are least likely to have any type of estate plan are those who are single, young and who do not have children. It’s no coincidence that most estate planning materials appeal to the elderly or married couples with children. However, this doesn’t mean that a single person doesn’t need an estate plan. If you’re a single person, here’s what you need to know about estate planning.
Because younger people typically have fewer assets than older people, a younger person’s estate plan is typically focused on contingency planning. This means the estate plan will focus not so much on property issues, but more on what the person wants to happen if certain events take place. For example, most single people do not have any type of advance medical directive. If a single person becomes sick or incapacitated, someone else will have to make medical choices on that person’s behalf. Without an estate plan, the single person has no way to choose who this person is and it will be up to a court to select someone, usually a single person’s closest relative.
Just like everyone else, single people who own property will have their property redistributed after they die according to specific state laws. Those laws, known as laws of intestate succession, choose who receives your property. Unless you make a will, trust, or have transfer on death accounts, your property will go to whom the law says should receive it. In practical terms this typically means that your parents will inherit your property regardless of whether you wanted them to or not. The only way to ensure that other people receive something is to make an estate plan.