If you are never married, you are among a growing sector of the population. The latest research shows that about 20 percent of adults have not tied the knot, and the number of women without children has also risen.
Although the single life may or may not have been your choice, some choices are still in your hands. For example, while many may think estate planning is for people who have families to inherit their heirlooms, having a will or trust may be even more important for you and other single adults.
Protecting the life you have built
Your life is probably rich and full. You likely have friends and activities that are important to you. Many who are single without children have particular people in mind when considering their assets, for example:
- Your longtime companion
- Your favorite niece or nephew
- Your alma mater
- A medical cause that is dear to you
- Animal welfare
Nevertheless, without a carefully crafted estate plan, when you pass away, those who are most dear to you may have no part in your estate and no say in your wishes. Probate courts typically follow state laws that have determined a hierarchy of genealogy. If you have no children, your estate may go to an estranged sibling, a contentious cousin or a distant relative you barely knew.
A serious consideration for many singles is who will make important medical or financial decisions for them if they should become incapacitated. Without a legal proxy, the courts will be left to make those very delicate decisions for you.
Prudent planning for the future
Married people or people with children can usually rely on the courts to divide their assets among those most closely related to them. If that situation isn't ideal, wise estate planning gives them an opportunity to express their wishes. With those who never married or had children, the distribution of an estate is more complicated, and the courts do not always have a clear idea of what your wishes might be.
To ensure that your assets end up in the hands of those you cherish most, you may find comfort in discussing your goals with an attorney. An Ohio attorney will explain the options that are most suitable for your circumstances. You can also learn more about the benefits of drafting a medical or financial power of attorney to protect you in dire circumstances.