Why Every Unmarried Person Should Have a Will

Wills offer a number of benefits for protecting one’s interests after his or her passing. In addition to appointing a personal representative, assigning custody/guardianship for minor children, setting up testamentary trusts, and more, one of the most important benefits is deciding the distribution of assets upon one’s death. Whether you’re in a life-long relationship or a single person, if you are unmarried you should have a will.

Unmarried couples often get the short end of the stick when it comes to inheritance rights. In Arizona, a community property state, spouses are entitled certain rights upon the deceased spouse’s death. Unmarried parties, however, are not automatically granted the ability to inherit their partners’ assets. By law, upon a person’s passing, his or her next of kin has the right to inherit any property left in the deceased party’s estate unless otherwise stated in a properly executed will. Therefore, even if a couple has been together for decades, the partner will not inherit property from the deceased party’s estate unless expressly written in a will. In fact, an estranged family member could inherit a person’s estate instead of a life-long partner under intestacy laws.

To protect one’s life partner, whether the couple is an unmarried heterosexual couple, a homosexual couple, life-long friends, or virtually any other scenario, a will must be formally executed prior to passing. In our country, even if a gay couple is married in a state that currently recognizes gay marriages, if that couple moves to Arizona one’s spouse is not necessarily granted the same rights of inheritance as he or she would receive in the state that recognizes the marriage. For this reason, if a gay couple moves to Arizona, and the parties wish to leave all assets to each other, it is imperative that those parties execute a will outlining their wishes.

Even single people not involved in a long-term relationship should execute a will. If a person does not execute a will, the next of kin has the right to inherit under state law. If the deceased person has a child or children, the estate would pass to the children. Absent a will, however, the guardian or custodial parent of those children may be responsible for the assets left to the children. Our simple wills allow you to set up a testamentary trust to make sure the minor child does not receive a disbursement of assets (except for education or other necessities) until the age of your choosing. You may also appoint a trustee which could be anyone from a trusted friend to a close family member who would act in the children’s best interests, to manage those funds.

If you don’t have children, you should execute a will to allow your estate to pass to a family member, friend(s), or charity. If, upon your passing, your next-of-kin are unable to be located, your estate could be escheated to the state. If you assets are escheated to the state, the state basically collects your assets and keeps it for its own spending. By preparing a will, you can decide instead to make sure your hard-earned assets pass to a loved one or a charity of your choosing.

If you have questions about why you need a will, or would like to set up a consultation to prepare a will or any other estate planning documents, don’t hesitate to call The Carroll Law Firm at (623)551-9366.

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