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Single people need estate plans too

When we talk estate planning and estate documents, we often do so in the context of a family or marriage. While it's true that estate planning is important if you have a spouse or children, it's equally true that single people can benefit from estate plans.

One reason that single people can benefit from estate planning and legal vehicles such as trusts is that single people have assets. What do you want done with those assets when you are gone? If you leave it up to chance, then the state decides. If you engage in estate planning, you can pass the assets on to specific family members, friends or even charitable interests. In fact, you can even use trusts and other estate tools to protect assets for yourself!

That leads us to a second reason single people might want to consider trusts and other estate documents. If you remain single and don't have children, then you might not have someone you trust implicitly to care for things as you age. Trusts, health care proxies and powers of attorney help you appoint people to handle certain aspects of your life if you become incapacitated.

Finally, a reason to engage in estate planning as a single person is that you might have specific heirs in mind. Marriage is a legal agreement, but lack of a marriage doesn't mean you don't have a significant other in your life. Lack of biological children doesn't mean you don't have younger people whom you worry about and want to look after -- whether or not those people are related to you.

Estate planning puts the power of decisions in your hands -- even if you later lose the ability to make those decisions for yourself. Wills, trusts and other considerations are important for every individual, no matter what their age or marital status is.

Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning For Single People," Douglas Rothermich, accessed Dec. 04, 2015

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