There are many misconceptions about who needs estate plans. The fact is, just about everyone can benefit from an estate plan - including single people who have never married. Whether you just haven't found the right person, found a partner but decided not to make it official, or realized that being single is the life for you, there are certain considerations for putting together an estate plan as a single person.
The estate planning process for married couples is typically very straightforward with a husband and wife leaving assets to the other - depending on who dies first. If the couple has children, then an estate plan ensures that the kids will be taken care of when one or both parents die. Of course, every estate plan is different and may not be quite this straightforward, but that's the general flow of a basic estate plan for married couples with children. However, for singles with no children, estate planning can be much different.
For example, with no spouse or children, you need to consider to whom your assets will go.
- Do you want to leave money to family members such as your parents or siblings?
- Do you want to include other close relatives including aunts, uncles, or cousins?
- Is there a close friend, charity or a significant other to include in your estate plan?
Without an estate plan, the distribution of your wealth and assets could be decided by a court.
Another option for singles is to leave their assets to a charitable organization. In doing so, not only can you create a legacy, but also feel good knowing that your money will go to support a worthy cause after you're gone. For example, you may want to leave money to your former college, a local homeless shelter, or other non-profit.
The fact that your life can change at any time is why you should review your estate plan on a regular basis. For example, you may have acquired more wealth, separated from a close loved one or significant other, or even tied the knot! For these and other reasons, you should consider updating your estate plan every few years. If you don't, your assets and how they are handled may be negatively affected.
If you're a single person with no children, you may not think that an estate plan is a necessity. But the truth is, being single makes estate planning that much more important. Remember, it's all about having control over where your money and other assets go after you die.