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Are you single/unmarried? Do you have a Will?

For some reason or another, sometimes single people think they may not need one but the reality is that estate planning is even more important for these individuals, regardless of age, to avoid confusion and ensure your wishes are carried out in the event something happens to you.

If a person does not have a Will, the state makes decisions for you in accordance with intestate succession law. The state will likely divide up your assets to the nearest family members like your parents and siblings. That may sound ok to you, but it’s not as simple and painless as you think. Along with their loss, your family will have to go through a lengthy, stressful, confusing process and be stuck with court costs and other expenses.

Additionally, do you have a significant other? Without a Will, they’ll likely be left out completely, even if they co-own a house or other property with you. They also won’t be authorized to make end-of-life or medical decisions for you. The situation only gets more complicated if you have children. Their well-being and futures are also at stake.

You have to ask yourself, do you really want to leave such important financial and healthcare decisions up to the government just because you didn’t take the time to plan?

While you may not like to dwell on these difficult thoughts, creating an estate plan is simply the responsible thing to do and affects everyone around you. But don’t worry, with the right help, it’s also not as hard or time-consuming as you might think.

Create a Will
A Will is the most basic form of estate planning. It serves as a clear set of instructions for what should happen to your assets after you’re gone and it’s backed by state law to uphold your wishes. It’s also critical to appoint an Executor who will help carry out your Will’s instructions. It’s important to have a conversation with this person ahead of time to make sure they’re willing to step up to this important position. If you don’t make your own selection, the court will choose an Executor for you who may not be as understanding of your wishes and view the position as an unwanted obligation.

In your Will, you can choose to not only divide assets up among family members but also friends, significant others and even charities. Make sure beneficiary forms are updated too! Consider your business and even pets. Surely you don’t want to leave the future of these important parts of your life up to the ruling of a court.

Establish a Power of Attorney
Another important consideration is appointing a trusted individual to be your Power of Attorney through a legal document in which you grant permission for them to act on your behalf to make decisions about property, finances or medical care. This person will represent you if you become unable to do so such due to illness or an accident. Even married couples cannot make certain decisions for each other without a Power of Attorney, so it is even more critical for a unmarried person to have this important document, so that partners or close friends can step in to assist. If you don’t choose a Power of Attorney, the court will and it may not be the person you would trust to execute upon your desires.

Plan for children
If you’re a single parent, you have an even stronger responsibility to do estate planning to protect your children. You’ll need to leave legal instructions for who will be responsible for sheltering and caring for your child, making medical decisions and managing their finances. Don’t assume a family member or other parent will step up or be the best choice to carry on as Guardian. Have these discussions beforehand with the potential individuals and get it in writing. If you don’t, you’ll be leaving your child’s critical care up to a Judge.

Instead of dreading estate planning, feel empowered by taking control and finding peace of mind in knowing that your financial, medical and parental decisions will be carried out according to your wishes while making life a lot easier for those you leave behind.

Working with an experienced lawyer is the best and easiest way to properly develop your estate plan. Contact me today to set up a time to chat.

Please be advised that Christina M. Hronek is licensed to practice in the State of Ohio only and the information provided in this article is based upon Ohio law. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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