According to the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of adults age 25 and older in 2012 had never married. That’s up from 9 percent in 1960. Further, the number of women age 40 to 44 who also have not borne children has increased from 10 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2005. Interestingly enough, that 20 percent decreased to 15 percent in 2014. These numbers reveal the growing number of Americans who need less of a traditional estate plan and more of a specific plan for their needs. Indeed, estate planning for the unmarried is one of the trends attorneys are seeing across the nation.
One of the biggest challenges for lawyers is to change the assumptions many single people have. They think since there’s no wife or children, estate planning isn’t as much of a priority as their married friends. Shifting that perspective shows them that being single doesn’t negate estate planning, it just means instead of a spouse and children who are protected and considered when the assets change hands, the client may need to include distant relatives, close friends or even mentors.
Usually, all it takes is a reminder that if a client doesn’t specify his intentions, his state will. Make no mistake, most state laws follow fairly rigid genealogical rules of inheritance and they are more than happy to annihilate money and time in the process. And what happens if you fail to make those distinctions? There’s a very good chance your assets and money will go to distant relatives you don’t even know – or worse, relatives you don’t like.
But what if there are no friends or distant relatives you care to include in your last will and testament or your overall estate plan? Many people are opting for charities, their churches or community groups. For instance, one woman in Georgia left her considerable assets to the local fire department. Her reasoning was simple: she witnessed the bravery of firefighters as a child when they not only battled the blaze that engulfed her childhood home, but two of the men actually ran into the fire to save her grandmother.
Trusts, Wills and Estate Plan for the Unmarried
Even if there’s no individual you wish to remember, there are ways to ensure your assets are used for good when you’re no longer here. The key is to make those decisions while you can versus dying intestate (without a will). A current estate plan, a well prepared last will and testament and any trusts that your estate planning lawyer recommends can help ensure your final wishes are met, even if you’re single and chose to remain childless.
To learn more about estate planning, naming beneficiaries and creating trusts, contact our team of estate planning lawyers today. We stand ready to provide guidance and help direct you to the solution that serves your needs.