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Single people should not overlook estate planning

More and more people are doing the responsible thing and planning their estates. Parents who realize the burden they will leave for their children if they die without a will are taking the time to make those important decisions.

Just because you have never married and have no children does not mean your estate deserves any less consideration. In fact, it may be even more important for you to plan your estate because your wishes may not be as obvious as the wishes of someone who has a spouse and children.

Who will inherit your estate?

Like most single people, you probably have wide-reaching relationships. Those special people in your life are the first who come to mind when you think about passing along your assets. For many, those people include:

  • Your long-term companion
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Your parents
  • Other relatives with whom you are close
  • Friends

In addition to the people in your life, you likely have relationships with certain institutions. You may also wish part of your estate to go to causes such as your alma mater, your church, a special medical charity or an animal shelter.

Unless you specify these beneficiaries, the court will administer your estate according to its rather rigid rules. Following your genealogy, the court may award your estate to relatives you barely know or never cared for.

Strangers should not make delicate decisions for you

Another thing to consider is that, unlike a married person, you may not have someone whom the law will permit to make urgent choices for you. For example, as you get older, you may reach a point where you are no longer able to make sound medical, legal or financial decisions.

Your estate plan can designate someone you trust to take care of those decisions. Without that designation, you may leave those choices in the hands of people who do not clearly understand your personal wishes. While an attorney can skillfully handle your legal and financial issues, you may prefer that someone closer and more personal make those difficult decisions about your health.

Don't put it off

You are never too young to plan your estate. Making those decisions now will ensure your wishes are respected if your health or situation should take a sudden turn. An estate planning attorney will explain to you the various options and help you choose the planning tools that fit your unique circumstances.

Additionally, you can discuss with your attorney the benefits of reviewing your plan on a regular basis. You should revisit your documents every five years unless you experience a major life change, such as marriage, the birth of a child or an inheritance. Once your plan is in place, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have protected your assets and provided for your loved ones.

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