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Wills still necessary for the unmarried community

Think estate planning is a married person's thing? While it might be understandable that some single individuals in Oklahoma are still under the impression that wills and estate planning offers nothing for them, the reality is very different. While certain laws exist to ensure the somewhat orderly passing of an estate to a surviving spouse, who gets what is much less clear cut when an unmarried person passes away without any estate planning documents to speak of.

As more and more people choose to delay saying "I do" in order to first establish some type of solid career, the perceived need for an estate plan has also slipped. However, with many jobs offering retirement accounts, many single individuals actually have quite a large asset that could be passed on to someone that they would not have chosen or perhaps with whom they are no longer even in contact. Oklahoma follows intestate succession when a person dies without a will, leaving estates to the closest living relative, whether that be a child, parent, siblings or some combination of the aforementioned.

Perhaps even more important than the issue of what happens to an estate after death is deciding who will be in charge of difficult medical decisions should the need ever arrive. When a person becomes medically incapacitated and is not married, a health care proxy can make health care choices in accordance with the wishes that person outlined in a living will. This is done through a durable power of attorney, and single people can name trusted friends or family members to be in charge of medical decisions or financial obligations during any of period of time that they are unable to do so themselves.

For some, the idea of creating an estate plan can disrupt the idea of a care-free single life. No matter how some people in Oklahoma might view the process of drafting wills and creating the necessary powers of attorney, there is little denying the enormous benefits and protections that estate planning provides. Whether single, married or recently divorced, virtually everyone can find the necessary protections through the simple process of planning their estate.

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

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