Single and Loving It

There is a lot to be said for marital bliss and also for the unmarried state.  Single people often say that they “prefer their freedom”, have “never met the right person”, or simply that “marriage is not for them.”

Some recent studies show that for adults over the age of 25 roughly one in five never married and presumably have no intention of tying the knot. However, four decades ago, only one in ten of the same age group was likely to decide to remain unmarried.  That is roughly a double jump. In other words, many more adults are choosing to remain single.

This trend of (‘unmarriedness’-did I just coin a new word?) may simply be a matter of economics.   Younger adults just do not have enough money to start a household and have kids.  Then, later in life, there is less incentive to do so.  Others point to a freer lifestyle and more choices for ‘singles’ than prior generations.  Another aspect is that younger adults can now seek very comfortable live-in partnerships without the marriage contract.  Add to that the fact that people have more job changes/choices and changes of domiciles.  Moving around can often hinder forming a ‘binding’ union with someone.  Others enjoy a ‘commuting’ lifestyle…a long- range relationship… and are comfortable in the ‘long distance’ romance.

Whatever the statistics and the personal reasons, ‘single forever’ is a category that has seen a significant growth.  Which leads me to the point of the article, which is – are there special issues for the ‘never to marry’.  Why should unmarried people care what happens to their wealth?  And how can they plan, as they age, for the transition of their assets to the people they love or to the causes that inspire them?

Estate planning is not very different for that ‘singles’ group, however, there is a slight twist.  If an unmarried person dies without a definite ‘plan’ then the state has a definite plan for them.  And it might not be what they want to happen.  Most states have strict  rules about inheritance.  Many states have the assets of an unmarried person go to their ‘next of kin’ for example, a parent or sibling.  It can be that simple.  Without a will, the state decides based on that state’s rigid inheritance rules.

But remember, as a single person ages, so do their siblings and parents.  What happens if no close relative is still living? Your assets could possibly end up with a distant cousin twice removed whom you have never met!

An unmarried person has the right to have their assets disposed of according to their precise wishes and that is why, for this group, it is truly imperative to have in place clear and precise directives.  Not only directives about “who gets what”, but also who will be able to make decisions about their health care if they become disabled and not able to make their own decisions. For example, Just because you have lived with a person for twenty years, that person would not necessarily be capable of making any health care/medical decision for you.

Your disability could be temporary or permanent, but in any case it is important to recognize that SOMEONE will be making that healthcare decision and it is advisable to have that person be someone you trust and have the confidence that they will carry out your wishes, be they medical decisions, or financial decisions.

If you are single and never married, then consider having a meeting with an attorney to explore your options and put your documents in order…before you need them.

Working to Preserve Your Assets and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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About Attorney Barbara Ann Dalvano

Attorney in Denver, Colorado with extensive practice experience in the areas of Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Business Succession Planning, Probate, Contract Law.

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