Do I Need and Estate Plan if I am Single?

Do I Need and Estate Plan if I am Single?

Unless you really don’t care what happens to the assets you have worked so hard to accumulate and want to leave the disposition of your assets to the state, you should absolutely have an estate plan! If you don’t decide how you want your estate distributed, the Florida laws of intestacy (dying without a will) will fill that void, and the recipients of your assets may not be those you would have chosen. And perhaps worse, if no relatives are located, your assets may default to the state!

An Estate Plan is about More than Just Your Financial Assets

Furthermore, you will want to determine who will act in your behalf─ making sure your wishes are carried out concerning your healthcare, end-of-life decisions, and management of your assets─ if you should become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney, advance healthcare directives, and a financial power of attorney are important parts of your estate plan, in addition to instructions for the distribution of your assets.

Single People Have Families, Too!

Many single people today are parents. If you have children, whether or not you have ever been married, you probably want to provide for them in the event of your death and to name a guardian to ensure they will be well cared for.

Likewise, many people today, although technically single, are involved in loving and committed relationships without the formality of marriage. If this applies to you, you will want to provide for your partner in the event of your death. This is very, important, since an unmarried partner has no right to inherit from you under the Florida law of intestacy.

If you have no children and no domestic partner, you may have siblings, parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, or cousins whom you would like to help.

What Are the Things that Matter Most to You?

Even if you have no close relatives at all, there are probably causes dear to your heart that you would like to support. Perhaps you would like to endow a chair at your alma mater, set up a scholarship fund, or improve your community through its community foundation.

There are many ways you can leave a mark on the world through your estate. Your life has meaning when you are here on Earth, and you can continue to do positive things for the world when you are gone. So, yes, if you are single and have any significant assets you will want to have an estate plan!

A Single Person’s Estate Plan May be Different

One difference in your estate plan, compared to those of your married friends, is, depending on your individual circumstances, that you may not have a life partner who would be the logical executor or trustee of your estate; so, you will have to select someone whom you trust to fulfill that function. It might be a professional trustee working for a bank or trust company, or it might be the estates and trusts attorney who helped you create your estate plan.

Make Sure the Basics Are Covered in Your Estate Plan

For as single person (whatever “single” means in your unique life circumstances), you will need to have a basic estate plan that may include a will and/or one or more trusts, a financial durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a health care directive. And especially if you have a large estate, you will want to include means of eliminating or reducing taxes and expenses so more of your money will go toward doing good for those you wish to help after you are gone. It is always a good idea to act sooner rather than later. An experienced Florida estates and trusts attorney can answer your questions, give you the guidance you need, and help you put together an estate plan that is consistent with your desires and unlikely to be challenged.