When a single person dies without estate planning in Texas and elsewhere, the assets are generally divided among their children, and if there are none, then to the parents, siblings, and so on. The statutory order of asset division may vary slightly from state to state. If there are no blood heirs, the estate may pass to the state government of residence. The unwanted results caused by intestacy (having no will) can be avoided by drawing up an estate plan that includes a will and/or living trust.
Additionally, the testator should appoint a personal representative to administer his or her estate after death. With those items in place, the assets can be distributed according to the testator’s wishes. Thus, where there are no heirs, the testator can specify beloved friends and/or charities to receive the assets in whatever proportions desired.
The testator will work with the estate planning attorney to make sure that all needs are covered. They will check all life insurance, retirement and investment accounts to update the beneficiary designations. This assures consistency with the testator’s wishes and with the overall estate plan. The beneficiary listings in those accounts will trump what is stated in a will or trust, which can cause serious problems if the right person is not listed.
Estate planning in Texas also includes the preparation of appropriate powers of attorney. A power of attorney giving a loved one the power to sign one’s name can avoid the expense and trouble of having the court appoint a guardian or conservator to take care of one’s daily financial affairs in the event of incompetency. A living will may also be prepared to advise medical providers to what extent one’s life should or should not be artificially maintained in the event of brain death. Additionally, the individual can appoint a person to make medical decisions for him or her through a health care directive or health care power of attorney.
Source: postcrescent.com, “Singles need estate planning too“, Carissa M. Giebel, Oct. 31, 2015