If you are single, you should not assume that estate planning is not relevant to you because of your marital status. Indeed, estate planning is important for all responsible adults, regardless of your age or marital status.
Some negative consequences can come about if you pass away as a single person without an estate plan in place. Let’s look at some of them.
Laws of Intestate Succession
If you die without an estate plan as a single person, your property would be distributed along intestate succession lines.
The matter would first fall into the hands of the probate court. The court would evaluate the situation and gain an understanding of your family dynamic. Ultimately, the court would be guided by these intestate succession laws.
If you are not married and you have no children, your parents would be first in line to inherit your property. This may not be in accordance with your wishes.
There is an interesting celebrity estate planning case that sheds some light on this type of thing. When the legendary singer of The Doors Jim Morrison passed away, he left everything to his girlfriend Pamela Courson.
Morrison famously did not get along with his parents, and he certainly did not want his girlfriend’s parents inheriting his estate. However, Courson died a couple of years after Morrison did. Unlike Morrison, she did not have a will in place. As a result, her parents inherited everything that she owned, including Morrison’s estate and the rights to its ongoing earnings.
Ultimately the Courson family reached an agreement with Morrison’s parents to share the vast earnings that were derived from the ongoing sales of Morrison’s work.
Clearly, this was not in accordance with his wishes. Better estate planning could have prevented this unwanted outcome.
Unmarried Committed Relationships
Many people are in committed, long-term relationships without being married. Sometimes these are same-sex individuals, but there are also many heterosexual couples that simply don’t tie the knot for one reason or another.
Sometimes they see no need for that “piece of paper.” And in other cases, pension or Social Security benefits could be lost if a couple were to get legally married.
Under these circumstances, once again intestate succession rules would hold sway if one of the partners was to pass away without a last will, trust, or some other type of estate planning document in place.
The committed life partner would be disinherited, and the decedent’s next of kin would inherit everything.
Why Take Chances?
There is really no reason to go through life without an estate plan as a single person. The intelligent first step is to set up a consultation with a licensed Campbell CA estate planning lawyer. Your attorney will gain an understanding of your financial situation, become apprised of your wishes, and make the appropriate recommendations.