As we’ve talked about before, everyone needs an estate plan, and an important part of that is a will. This makes sense to a lot of folks, especially those that have a spouse and children. They want to specify where their money and assets, like their house, are going, how much each family member gets, and who will be the guardian of their children.
But for many other folks—in particular, those that aren’t married and perhaps don’t have kids—they don’t see a reason to have an estate plan. They think that, because they’re single, or just living with their significant other, it doesn’t matter for them. 55% of Americans don’t have any kind of estate plan, which is a staggering number. That number is probably proportionately higher for people who are unmarried.
Having some type of estate plan is essential, even if you are unmarried. A recent video from CNN gives a great example of what can go wrong if you are unmarried, don’t have a will, and something happens to you.
Let’s say, for example, that a couple is living together, and both have been married with children before. They buy a house together and put it in the man’s name, with each of them contributing to the mortgage. If something should happen to the man, and he dies without a will, the state of Ohio will decide for him where the house goes—without any say from the surviving partner. So, the house would go, not to the woman, but to the man’s children—leaving the woman with no place to live, unless the children decide to give or sell her the house.
This is because, if you don’t have a will, trust, or other estate planning document, the state of Ohio determines the fate of your estate for you. If you die without a will and are married, your spouse has some rights and protections under the law. Ohio will give him or her at least a portion of your estate. If something should happen to you, and you are not yet married, your significant other has no rights to your estate in the eyes of the law.
Everyone needs some type of estate plan, be it a will or living trust. Handwritten wills are, today, rarely recognized. Online will writing services are also not recommended. Because of the legal jargon involved, writing your own will is very tricky. If one thing is wrong, your whole will could be voided.
Your best bet is to see a qualified estate planning attorney—one who has extensive experience in crafting wills and other estate plans, such as living trusts (which are often a better estate plan for many people, married and unmarried), and who will give personal, understandable advice.
You can watch the whole video on CNN here.