Historically, discussions of estate planning have tended to most often involve married couples or the needs of families. Single people have often been overlooked.
With so many adults who are unmarried, however, an emphasis on estate planning that includes single people is long overdue. After all, it isn't only that many people remain unmarried. There are also many single adults who are divorced or whose spouses have died.
Single people need wills, just like married people do, to direct the distribution of their property after death. Without a will, property would pass according to a state's intestacy statute - and that distribution would not necessarily be in accordance with the wishes of the person who died.
Of course, it isn't only a will that is needed, either, to create a basic estate plan. A living will and a power of attorney are also essential elements to get your affairs in order. In terms of estate planning, it doesn't matter whether you are married or single. Either way, it is important to have these documents in place to provide for contingencies that may occur regarding healthcare or financial decisions
Keep in mind that these are only the basics. For testators with abundant assets or complicated extended family arrangements, the creation of some type of trust arrangement may be in order. For a wealth person, there may also be estate and gift tax considerations involved in planning for the right arrangement.
In short, if you are single, don't shortchange yourself in devoting the time and attention necessary to think carefully about your estate plan. Once you have done so, you'll be ready to make decisions accordingly.
Source: "Estate Planning Techniques for the Single Testator," The Epoch Times, Arleen Richards, 1-28-13
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Massachusetts estate planning page.