estate planning when you have never married

What do you do about estate planning if you never married? When you’re married, estate planning generally seems quite simple. Typically, the spouse who dies first leaves everything to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse passes on, the estate usually goes to the children.

If you don’t put any estate planning in place, and you never married, then Texas intestate succession laws dictate what happens with your estate. The probate court will follow Texas laws. With no spouse and no children, the estate goes to the surviving parents and is divided equally. If you have no surviving parents, then your estate goes to your siblings and their children and is divided equally. If you had no siblings, then the estate passes on to more distant relatives.

Estate Planning If You Never Married: Disadvantages of Intestate Succession

There are several disadvantages to intestate succession. The main one is that you have no say in how your legacy is passed on. You may not even know the distant relatives and would have other preferences about who gets your estate.

The other disadvantage is that determining an intestate estate requires more time and expense, which means less of the estate remains to be passed on.

How Many Individuals Never Marry?

It may come as a surprise, but the number of Americans who never marry is on the rise. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2014 there were 107 million Americans who were 18 years and older that were unmarried. This was 45 percent of all U.S. residents who were 18 and older. Of these unmarried individuals, 63 Percent who were 18 and older had never been married — only 24 percent of them were divorced and only 13 percent of them were widowed.

If you’ve never married, you are increasingly among the ranks of others who also have never married.

Common Estate Planning Options for Never Married Individuals

The New York Times published an article that discussed how never married individuals planned their estates. Many left their legacies to longtime companions, nieces and nephews, siblings, parents and other relatives. Some left legacies to friends. Generally after exhausting this list, estates were left to preferred charities or their colleges.

However, the beneficiaries of your legacy are your decision, and our attorneys are glad to assist you with putting your plans in place.

C.E. Borman & Associates is a law firm that helps people with estate planning, probate, family law, divorce and other related issues.