Estate Planning For Singles
Estate Planning for Singles
Single people, with property in their name alone, need a will. Otherwise, their significant others or close friends will not inherit.
If a single person does not have a will, their assets will pass to next of kin per the laws of intestacy. This means the property will first pass to children, or if none, to parents. If a single person is not survived by parents or children, their assets will pass to their siblings in equal shares, or nieces/nephews. Significant others will not receive anything.
If there is no will, proper beneficiary designation forms or joint account ownership is needed to pass assets to a companion; Without joint ownership or a partner named in a beneficiary designation form, a partner may not inherit anything.
Things can go wrong for singles when estate planning is not done. Here are some examples of what can happen:
- Anne and Gil live together and have one young child. They are not married and have no joint accounts. They only own the home jointly. If Gil dies unexpectedly, only the home will go to Anne. The rest of his estate will pass to their young child. Would Gil want the child to get his estate and not Anne?
- Ellie is a widow with two grown children. She’s been estranged from her daughter for over 20 years but is close with her son and his family, who live nearby. If she doesn’t have a will, her children will share 50-50 unless the assets are jointly titled with her son, or her son is the designated beneficiary.
- While Betty and Sally lived together, Sally adopted a child to raise together. Betty has no parental rights. If Betty and Sally don’t marry, care must be taken to properly leave assets for the other. Betty may also consider adopting their child, so she can be the legal guardian if something happens to Sally.
People can be single for many reasons. But one thing is sure: Without estate planning and a will, things may not go according to plan.