Even single people should consider estate planning to be important
Boston Magazine reports that an increasing number of Americans are choosing to remain single. Singles now comprise almost half of the adult population in the United States. Some research actually suggests that single people are happier than their married counterparts. The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that, in Boston, 59 percent of men and 55 percent of women “have never walked down the aisle.” There are no statistics on how many single adults have engaged in estate planning. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many single adults do not believe that estate planning is an important priority. In reality, estate planning is absolutely crucial to single adults having a say in the distribution of assets and property after they pass.
The author of a Wells Fargo’s Lifescapes magazine article observes that estate planning is not just for married people or people who have children. The author explains that there are three reasons why everyone-including single people-should have an estate plan. First, an estate plan gives you a voice in who handles your estate and who inherits your assets. Second, a good estate plan will have someone designated to handle your affairs should you become incapacitated. Third, everyone should have a medical directive relative to your end-of-life preferences. In Massachusetts, a Health Care Proxy appoints someone else to make the medical decisions when you unable to do so.
The basic planning tool for estate planning is, of course, a will. As succinctly stated in a CNN news report, a will “is a device that lets you tell the world whom you want to get your assets.” By contrast, if you die without a will, “the state decides who gets what.” In Massachusetts, if there is no will, your property will be distributed according to the Massachusetts intestacy laws. Stripped to their essence, the Massachusetts intestacy laws select for you the person or persons who will inherit your assets based on how closely those heirs are related to you.
One way to view the Massachusetts intestacy laws is to think of them as a default estate plan chosen by Massachusetts for you in the event that you opt not to create an estate plan yourself. Without a will, it is conceivable that your assets could end up going to persons that you have not seen for years and, perhaps, actively disliked.
Charities as beneficiaries
Assuming that you do not have relatives or friends to whom you desire to leave some or all of your assets, many single people consider leaving their assets to charitable organizations. As noted in an article published on the Investing Daily website, single senior citizens without children often desire to leave behind a legacy of charitable giving. The American Bar Association observes that an estate plan can be crafted that supports religious, educational or other charitable causes during your lifetime-or upon your death-while allowing you to take advantage of tax laws designed to encourage acts of private philanthropy.
Preparing a plan
Regardless of whether you are single or married, if you desire to have a say in how your assets are distributed upon death, you need to consider estate planning. A Massachusetts attorney experienced at handling estate planning will be glad to discuss your financial situation and assets. The attorney can then advise on the variety of estate planning options suitable for your situation.