Unmarried clients often come to my Minnesota office at the recommendation of someone else. Maybe their parents are clients and they push them to also get a will. Others have just dealt with a family member’s estate and have seen how important it is to have a will. Even more so if they were the trustee of a trust and saw all that entails. And there are also plenty of unmarried clients who recently became unmarried (i.e. a divorce) and want to make sure their will and other documents are updated so that their ex doesn’t receive anything. Regardless of the reason, a common set of questions from the clients are:
Do I need a will if I’m not married?
I don’t have kids, do I need a will?
The answer for those playing along at home? Probably.
Do I Need a Will if I’m Not Married?
It’s a common misconception that if you are unmarried, you don’t need a will. But this misconception may be different than you think. If you die without a will, then the state where you live will decide what happens to your assets. There is a process laid out in Minnesotathat says what happens. Most likely, a court will be involved to administer the process. If there are things that need to be sold, the probate court may need to review the proposed sale agreements and sign off on them before it can happen. And the court will also need to decide who gets what based upon a scheme laid out in your state’s laws.
(One option for you then is to meet with a lawyer, have them explain what your local laws say would happen to your estate, and if you are ok with the laws, then you don’t need to do anything)
A Common Misconception
The misconception that I see comes from the idea that you should only be considering a will. When you prepare what is commonly known as an “Estate Plan“, there are other documents beyond just a will. You will likely also have:
In addition to these, I often include a HIPAA Authorization as well for my clients. These additional documents often describe what happens in case you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you run your own business and are in a coma, who will keep the business afloat? If you’ve been in an accident and can’t make a medical decision, the Healthcare Power of Attorney gives someone else the legal authority to make those decisions. These are considerations for people regardless of whether they are married or not. Especially if you are unmarried and there isn’t someone naturally there to step in and help, these documents make sure that you are taken care of if you are incapacitated in some way.
Do I Need a Will if I Don’t Have Kids?
The other misconception I run into is whether you need to have a will if you don’t have kids. There are plenty of people in this situation who can benefit from an estate plan as well. Just because you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you don’t need an estate plan. In fact, it is almost more necessary in these cases because there is not automatically someone who would naturally inherit your estate. Especially if you have nieces and nephews or cousins that you are particularly close with, an estate plan can make sure that you are able to leave gifts to family members or others. Otherwise, you’re left to the distribution laid out in your local laws…
If you're in Minnesota and you’ve been considering a will and now realize you really need a full estate plan, or this is the first you are hearing of it and would like more information, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can discuss if it is the best option for your situation.