It is a common misconception among residents here in Texas and across the country that estate planning is only for couples and older individuals. While these people need solid estate plans, singles can greatly benefit as well. The only dissimilarity is that the estate planning process itself and the documents that need to be created are different.
As a general rule, assets will go to a spouse or children if there is no will for a married person. For a single person, it is the closest relative that receives the assets. This could be a child, parent or sibling. If no one is alive, the state may take possession of the assets. Therefore, it is important that single individuals take the time to develop a solid estate plan.
For singles, a will is probably the most important. It serves as the primary part of an estate plan. A will outlines who will receive executorship of one's estate and how his or her assets will be split among the individuals he or she wishes. An executor must be named, which is a trustworthy person who will oversee the distribution of one's assets.
While the will is very important, one should not forget to include a durable power of attorney and a health care directive. The first allows someone to be named as a financial and personal facilitator should one become unable to take care of these affairs him- or herself. The latter is a document that states how one wishes to be taken care of medically in the event that he or she cannot state these wishes. This should include a medical power of attorney, which is a person one trusts to make medical care and treatment decisions on his or her behalf.
As it can be seen, estate planning is just as important for singles as it is for any other person. Without a well-drafted estate plan, problems can occur that have dire consequences regardless of one's marital status. Therefore, it is important that Texas residents take the time to have a comprehensive plan developed and tailored to their individual situations.
Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning For Single People", Douglas Rothermich, June 18, 2015