According to Pew Research Center the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high.
In 2012 one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million) had never been married. In 1960, only about one-in-ten adults (9%) fell into that category. Men (23%) are more likely than women (17%) are more likely to have never been married.
As a result there are more unmarried adults thinking about estate planning with no surviving partner or offspring who would routinely figure in to wills or trusts.
A recent New York Times article highlighted the trend and pointed out some of the unique choices unmarried adults face. Most importantly, it’s not always obvious who should receive the funds in the estate.
In many states when no beneficiary is listed rather strict genealogical rules of inheritance are followed. But most experts note that this process can cost money and takes time.
For many unmarried adults the first choice is usually long-time companions, nieces, nephews or siblings. In many instances parents or other relatives and friends are named, but after that, charities are the most popular choices, particularly among older adults and women.
Those individuals with particularly large estates can reduce estate taxes with charitable bequests. Institutions such as alma maters, medical causes or even animal shelters have been named in many cases.
Whether financial beneficiaries should also have medical or legal authority, is a difficult decision particularly if grieving relative would be asked to make significant decisions.
Experts agree that most estate plans should be updated every five years.
At Medina Law Group you can take great comfort in knowing you have the very best strategies in place to protect your loved ones, when you’re gone and — perhaps more importantly — to protect you, during your lifetime.