Some Like It Single: The Unmarried Estate April 24, 2009Posted by Onely in Some Like It Single.
Tags: dying without a will, property and being single, protecting your property, singles estate planning, therese h. lee
Welcome to the latest installment in our new series, Some Like It Single, where we profile (relatively) small, independent blogs dedicated to exploring what it means to be “single” in American culture and, we hope, around the world.
This week, we’re profiling a relatively new blog, The Unmarried Estate. We really like this blog because its author, Therese H. Lee, is an estate lawyer whose specialty is singles estate planning (if you’re single, live in DC, and have concerns about protecting your property then Therese is your woman: http://www.thereselee.com/). The Unmarried Estate provides an extremely valuable resource for the rest of us, as Therese posts about all things property/beneficiary/money-related that we singles need to know. Here’s why she chose singles estate planning to be part of her firm’s focus:
I decided that I wanted estate planning to be part of my law practice because of a personal family situation. A grandparent passed away a few years ago and because of poor estate planning, there are members of my extended family who are not speaking to each other and her estate still has not been settled after nearly 5 years. Then I started to realize how these situations can be exacerbated if a relative led an “alternative lifestyle” (e.g. lived with an unmarried lover, gay or straight, was a single parent, or wanted to leave all their money to charity because they had no children, which can cause problems if you have other family living at your death who might feel “entitled” to inherit from you since you don’t have kids, etc.)
Stay tuned for updates to Therese’s regular series, Rate Your State!, in which she rates each state (in the order in which they became a United State) according to how well/poorly that state treats singles’ property and their unmarried partners after they die… We’ve gotta admit, it’s kind of depressing: So far, New Jersey is the only state that’s received anything more than Zero Hearts… Another post you should check out is Therese’s thoughts on how gay marriage DOES help us singles — we were really impressed by her perspective.
Here’s how she came to her current understanding of/about the problems inherent to marriage as an institution:
When I began law school in 2003, I really began to think very critically about marriage. Especially when the gay marriage debate began to get very controversial in the 2004 election. I wondered what it was that drove people nuts when you mention the idea of letting a homosexual get married. And eventually it hit me. It is not about children and it is not about religion. It is about privilege. Married people enjoy a special privilege, both social and legal, and for all their talk about wanting everyone to get married, they want to keep a certain amount of exclusivity in the club.
Although Therese isn’t technically “single,” neither is she married. In fact, she’s never wanted to be:
I was never one of those girls who fantasized about the perfect wedding. I did play with Barbie, but my Barbie playtime fantasies were based on the fact that Barbie had her own house and car, lived an independent life, traveled the world and could take or leave Ken. When I was living in New York City during and after college, being single was not a big deal. Most people were single at that age. But as I approached my 30s I began to feel like my number was going to be up soon. The message that I kept getting both directly and indirectly from both extended family and society was that being single was fine for a while, but eventually you have to “settle down.” Whatever that means. I suppose it meant getting married and having children. I never felt particularly driven to do either.
Ugh. We know what that’s like, Therese!
We’re very happy to have Therese and The Unmarried Estate as part of our singles community – we hope you’ll check her out!
— L & CC