For many people, it takes big life changes, increased responsibilities, or the accumulation of substantial assets to make them finally prepare a comprehensive estate plan. Marriage and remarriage, having a child or becoming a step-parent, or other circumstances can be powerful motivators. After all, most people don’t want to leave their spouse or their children without the resources and security needed to move forward after they pass away. But what if you don’t provide for a significant other or children? Should you even bother with a will or a trust, and if you do prepare one, who will benefit?
Put simply, if you are a single person with no kids, who should get your stuff if you die tomorrow?
Why Single People Should Prepare a Will
Single people have people or charities they may want to name as beneficiaries. Not only do singles want to make sure their assets are distributed in the manner they desire, but they also don’t want their loved ones’ grief upon their passing to be compounded with confusion, cost, or conflict because they failed to provide clear directions about handling their estate.
If you don’t have a will, trust, or other documents that effectively direct how to distribute your assets upon your death, Michigan’s intestate laws will decide for you. For married folks or parents who die without a will, a spouse and then their children would usually inherit their estate, which often matches what they would have wanted to happen anyway. However, if you’re single, these laws may award your assets to relatives you would not choose, or leave relatives you want to provide for with nothing.
Options for Beneficiaries
Deciding who will be the beneficiary of your will is a deeply personal process. Your goals, family dynamics, and the nature of your estate will all play roles in your choice. But you have plenty of options, including naming a beneficiary that is not a relative – or one that is not even a human.
You can name literally anyone to be your beneficiary. You can have multiple beneficiaries, and you can designate certain individuals who will receive specific assets, including items that may have particularly sentimental value.
If there is a charity, school, cause, or other institution close to your heart, you can leave it all or some of your assets as well.
While many singles do not have kids, plenty of them have pets who act as their children. If you die without a will or without making other plans for their care, your dog, cat, or other pet could be left out, with no plan for their care or custody. While making your pet the beneficiary of your estate may not be the best idea (as they will just spend it all on food and toys), you can establish a pet care trust as part of your estate plan. Unlike some other states, Michigan law specifically allows its residents to establish pet care trusts to provide for the care and financial support of pets and other domestic animals. You fund the trust with assets from your estate and designate a caregiver for your pet and a trustee to manage the money in the trust. These are often the same person.
Contact Kreis Enderle Today if You Are Ready to Start Your Estate Planning
By preparing a will and estate plan, you provide yourself with peace of mind and your loved ones with clarity that can help them through the grief of your passing. To start working on your estate plan, contact one of Kreis Enderle’s estate planning attorneys today.