People who are single can benefit from writing a will, whether they are divorced, widowed or have never married. A will allows you to leave your property to the people or charities you choose. It also allows you to choose who will be responsible for wrapping up your estate, distributing your property and taking care of any minor children you have.
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The legal term for dying without a will is intestacy, or dying intestate. When a person dies intestate, the probate court distributes her property according to the laws of the state where she died. For single people, intestacy laws usually mean that their property goes to their children, if any, then to their parents or siblings. If none of these people are alive, the deceased person's property may go to the state, according to the American Bar Association. Writing a will is one way to ensure your property passes to the people you wish to have it, instead of those chosen by law.
Providing for a Partner
A will can allow a single person to provide for a cherished partner, even if the two of you are not married, according to Lambda Legal. The law in most states allows you to leave your property to anyone you like, even if you are not related by blood or marriage, according to the American Bar Association. By creating a will, you can ensure that your partner will receive your property, including money, real estate and family heirlooms, when you die.
Providing for Children
If you are a single person with minor children, a will allows you to provide for them by setting aside money for their care, according to FindLaw. It also allows you to leave family heirlooms in their care. In addition, you may name a guardian in your will to take care of your children once you are gone. It is wise to ask the person you want to name as guardian whether he wants the job before you list him in your will. You may also want to name a contingent or backup guardian in case your first choice is unable or becomes unwilling to serve, according to FindLaw.
Choosing an Executor
Finally, your will allows you to choose the person who will carry out the instructions in your will when you die. This person, known as the executor or personal representative, works with the probate court to ensure that your last bills are paid and your property is given to the people you name in your will, according to the American Bar Association. Most people choose to name someone they trust and who has agreed to take on the job. If you die intestate or do not name an executor in your will, the probate court will name someone to serve as executor. This person may be a relative or a creditor, and may not be the person you would prefer.
References & Resources
- ABA Guide to Wills and Estates: Introduction to Wills
- Lambda Legal: Tools for Preparing a Will
- FindLaw: Wills Overview
- FindLaw: Why It Is Important to Have an Attorney Advise You Regarding Wills
- ABA Family Legal Guide: In My Will, Can I Leave My Property To Anyone I Wish?
- FindLaw: When to Change Your Will
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