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Single Delaware residents need estate planning too

Married couples, especially those who have children, are told they should plan for a time when they are no longer alive. This focus does an injustice to single Delaware residents. Estate planning might actually be more critical for unmarried individuals.

For example, if a single person becomes incapacitated due to an illness or injury, there is no natural assumption of who will be appointed to make decisions on his or her behalf. A married person's spouse is often assumed to fulfill this role without the need for a lot of fanfare, even if there is no power of attorney in place. When a person is unmarried, the court will have to take the time to choose the appropriate party, which could waste precious time and resources.

The courts tend to look toward a single person's parents, but they might not be available. Furthermore, neither may be the individual that the incapacitated individual would have chosen for whatever reason. The same issue could arise with the distribution of any assets the individual owns. Accounts that require a beneficiary designation will pass to the person listed, but any other assets will be distributed in accordance with Delaware's intestacy laws. This means that someone other than who the individual intended could receive them.

These are just some of the reasons why singles need to seriously consider estate planning. The choices that people make in their lives might not be the ones that the law or other family members, such as parents, would make. Therefore, part of moving into adulthood could be to ensure that any assets now owned or acquired in the future will end up being inherited by the people an individual chooses, and that the "right" person is there in one's time of need.

Source: fdlreporter.com, "Easing the burden: Estate planning for singles", Isabell Mueller, June 24, 2016

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