Statistics indicate that less than half of all Americans have a comprehensive estate plan in place. When asked why they have yet to create an estate plan people offer a variety of explanations. Many of those explanations boiled down to the belief that they do not need an estate plan at this point in their life. This is a particularly common reason given by single individuals. If you are single and have put off creating an estate plan for this reason now may be the time to work with an estate planning attorney on your plan. Once you understand what happens to your property if you are single when you die you will also understand why even a single individual needs an estate plan.
In Missouri, when a person dies without leaving behind a Last Will and Testament the individual is said to have died “intestate”. Normally, your Will is the foundation for your estate plan and serves as a roadmap for the division of your estate assets after your death. If you die intestate in St Louis MO, the Missouri intestate succession laws will determine how your estate assets are handled after your death. If you have children your children will inherit all of your estate assets in equal shares. If you had no children at the time of your death your estate assets will be equally divided among surviving parents and/or siblings. If neither parent survived you your estate will be divided among your siblings. Likewise if no siblings survived you your estate assets will be equally divided among your parents. There are a number of potential unwanted outcomes when you are a single individual and you die intestate, including:
- You have no control over who receives your estate assets.
- Friends, coworkers and charities as well as nieces, nephews and other distant relatives will receive nothing from your estate.
- If you have children they will not receive specific bequests such as a family heirloom.
- Assets, such as your home, may need to be sold in order to create an equal division among heirs of your estate.
In many ways, a single individual has even more incentive to create an estate plan than someone who is married. When you are married, your estate assets will go to your spouse and/or children if you die intestate as a matter of law. If you are single, however, you may have a partner or “significant other” to whom you have promised specific items or whom you wish to provide for in the event of your death. Unless you provide for that person in your estate plan, however, he or she will receive nothing when you die regardless of the amount of time you were together, the seriousness of the relationship, or any promises you may have made to the individual.
By now you should realize that being single is not a reason to put off creating an estate plan. Contact an estate planning attorney today to get started on you plan.