Do I Need a Will if I Am Single?

Understanding the Need for a Will as a Single Person

Have you ever wondered if you need a will if you are single? The answer is yes! A will allows you to dictate where your personal property goes to – including your pets! Without a will, your assets will pass through probate in according to Ohio’s descent and distribution statute. For single persons without kids, your assets will go to your parents. Meaning your parents will have to hire an attorney to go through probate to get your assets. If you do not want your assets to go to your parents and instead would like them to go to siblings or friends, a will allows you to dictate this! 

The Benefits of Estate Planning Beyond Asset Distribution

Aside from dictating who will get your assets when you pass, consulting with an estate planning attorney may have other benefits, like setting you up with health care and financial powers of attorney. If you are in the hospital, having this document will allow you to appoint the proper person to make health and financial decisions on your behalf.

Health Care Power of Attorney: A Must-Have for Everyone

A healthcare power of attorney appoints a person to make health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. It would apply if you were in an accident and unresponsive or if you went in for surgery and a decision had to be made the unexpected. The powers of attorney are good until revoked. It is always a good idea to allow your healthcare provider to share your relevant health information to the person you appoint by either designating them with your health care provider and/or signing a HIPAA release. Having this release on file will make sure the person you designate to make health care decisions has all the relevant information at their fingertips.

Navigating Financial Decisions with a Power of Attorney

Financial powers of attorney allow you to appoint a person to make financial decisions on your behalf. There are two types: durable and springing. A durable POA is effective immediately and allows the person you nominate to act on your behalf that very day, even if you are healthy. A springing POA only “springs” into effect upon the occurrence of a specific event (i.e. your incapacitation). Typically, the event that causes the “springing” will be two doctors declaring you unable to make decisions. Deciding whether to have a durable or springing POA is a personal choice to be discussed with an estate planning attorney.

The POA can designate what financial assets the person can handle. You can limit the POA to only bank accounts or it can be expansive and include everything, including stocks, bonds, real estate, and more.

Even if you have more debt than assets, the financial power of attorney will allow the appointed person to discuss payments with your creditors and keep you from defaulting on debt (aka, the person can pay those student loans!).

Planning Your Legacy: Burial and Funeral Arrangements

If you have very specific ideas on what you want to happen when you pass away, you can memorialize your wishes at the same time you sign your will. You can instruct those that survive you how to handle your remains – you want to be cremated and spread on the beach in South Carolina and a party thrown in your memory? Write it down! If you want a full Catholic Mass followed by a wake or traditional Muslim rites, write it down! It eliminates any confusion by surviving family members of your wishes and is much more likely that your religious (or non-religious) beliefs are executed.

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