If you are a single person, and especially one who does not have children, you may be one of the many Americans who question the importance of having a will. So much of estate planning is about providing for a spouse and children after you die, but if you do not have either of those, then what’s the point, right? In fact, there are quite a few reasons why it is especially important for those who are single to have a will.
A Will Lets You Dictate Who Should Receive Your Property (and Who Should Not)
If you die without a legally valid will, then your state’s intestacy laws will dictate who should receive your property, and any type of promise you might have made to a family member or friend about receiving property will not matter if it was not included in a will or other type of valid testamentary instrument.
State intestacy laws usually dictate that a deceased person’s property should primarily go to his or her surviving spouse and/or children, which is often what a person might have wanted anyway, but when there is no surviving spouse or children, your property may go to a person you had no intention of benefitting. For example, parents, siblings, and even cousins and children of siblings are often unintended beneficiaries in intestacy proceedings, regardless of whether the deceased had any relationship with that person or even a hostile relationship.
Without a Will, a Court Will Decide Who Will Oversee Your Estate
When you create a will, you can name an executor who will oversee your estate and make sure that debts are paid, that your assets are properly maintained, and that your loved ones receive the property you intended them to receive in a timely manner, per your wishes.
Without a will, a court may need to appoint an unknown individual to undertake these issues. While intestacy rules will guide the relative portion of your estate family members will receive, they will have to fight it out on who receives exactly what property from your estate (e.g. real estate, vehicles, furniture, intellectual property, etc) and the court-appointed representative will have to settle this under the supervision of the court. This can be costly for your beneficiaries and result in considerable delay.
If You Do Get Married Later, You Can Easily Update Your Will
You might think that obtaining a will while single is going to double your work because you will just have to get a new one when you get married lest your new spouse get nothing, but that is incorrect for several reasons. Updating/modifying a will is often a simple, straightforward process, and even if you do fail to update the will (although you absolutely should), most state probate laws will allow for a new spouse to share in some or all of your estate.
See What a Pasadena Estate Planning Attorney Can Do For You
Christopher B. Johnson is an estate planning attorney in Pasadena, CA who has helped thousands of individuals and families over the past 18 years in creating and reaching their estate planning objectives as well as in navigating the probate process in California to achieve positive outcomes. Schedule a consultation with him today to discuss your estate planning goals.