Estate Planning for Single People in Minnesota

Apr 11, 2019

Do single people need to worry about wills, trusts, and estate planning?  Yes!

Really, “yes” is the only answer that’s needed, but I will take a moment to offer some insight as to why single people need to worry about estate planning.

When there is no plan

First, it is important to understand what happens if there is no plan. If you fail to plan the laws of Minnesota will decide for you in the event of a medical emergency or death. These laws will decide what happens to you, your body, and your stuff. These laws will also decide who is the person who can and should make decisions for you. This means that if you are unable to communicate your wishes, the state will step in and impose its own plan. The laws also provide a court process where everything will be handled. If your loved ones don’t agree with the state’s default plan, there could be a contested court battle over it. One of the most important reasons for a single person to work with an estate planning attorney is to be in control of what happens.

The importance of a Health Care Directive 

Next, consider who would be able to tell the doctors what you would want in the event of a medical emergency? Hopefully, that person would be one of your parents or siblings if you don’t have a plan in place. Without a plan, the courts will most likely appoint your nearest legal relative. If the best choice would really be a good friend, other family member, or possibly a significant other to whom you’re not legally married, the courts won’t care. They will stick to the predetermined law, and that law will look at bloodline relatives first. But if you want to make your own decisions, a Health Care Directive is a simple legal document that allows you to decide who will serve as your Health Care Agent and what decisions will be made. 

The need for a Power of Attorney 

Likewise, if you are unable to take care of your own finances for any reason, the courts will likely appoint the closest blood relative to step in.  It doesn’t matter what you want. They will have access to your money and will be put in charge of managing it, paying your bills, etc.  Think about how your oldest sibling manages his or her money.  Would you be comfortable with that person being in responsible for yours? A Financial Power of Attorney gives you the opportunity to decide who will be the one to handle your finances should the need arise. 

What happens to your estate?

Finally, should you pass away without an estate plan, your assets will automatically go through the Minnesota probate process. Again, the courts will step in and determine who is to handle the probate process and who is to inherit your property and money; and you will have absolutely no say in the matter. However, some simple estate planning can give you control over what happens. 

Estate planning is for everyone

None of these scenarios is even a little bit exaggerated. Failing to plan will result in the state stepping in and imposing the default plan in your situation. Your loved ones could get caught up in a long, expensive, court battle. Your wishes will not be followed. Estate planning is not just for families or the wealthy. Estate planning is for everyone. It is important for all adults, including single individuals, to think about estate planning. Remember, it’s not just about having a lot of assets to leave behind; it’s about making your own decisions regarding your medical care, your possessions, and your finances.