The Livens Law Firm

Single people will also benefit from estate planning documents

In some respects, a single person may have more of a need for estate planning documents than a married one. A single person may be more adrift with no identifiable representatives to act on his or her behalf simply because of there being fewer obvious family ties. In Texas and all other states, an important goal of estate planning is to make sure that a person is taken care of in the most efficient way should he or she become incapacitated.

Where there is no spouse officially listed as a co-owner on one's accounts or property, it may become more difficult for that property to be used on the owner's behalf should he or she become incapacitated. A sudden critical illness without prior estate planning may put the individual in the hands of unknown doctors without any input from trusted family members or friends. An incapacity making a person unable to function, care for him or herself, and unable to handle monetary affairs may result in substantial legal fees and other expenses if estate planning documents are not in place.

The health care proxy allows a person's designated representatives to talk with medical providers and make decisions regarding one's medical care. A living will provides for implementation of the person's choices in the event of brain death and the prospect of using life-extension machines to artificially prolong life. The durable power of attorney is an important estate planning document that will allow a person's designated representative to sign the person's name and conduct normal financial affairs as long as the person remains incapacitated.  

A last will and testament is necessary for a single person residing in Texas. If there is any property that does not pass directly to a beneficiary by a life insurance or investment policy, or by joint tenancy, then the decedent's estate planning must provide a will with designated beneficiaries to receive the property that is intended by the maker. Without a will, if there is property solely in the person's name at the time of his or her death, it must be distributed to according to the state's intestacy statutes.

Source: cohasset.wickedlocal.com, "PLANNING MATTERS: Singles still need an estate plan", Leanna Hamill, Feb. 19, 2016

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