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Those without children should still create an estate plan

People in Rochester may be so wrapped up in their day-to-day lives that they may not give much thought to their future. For example, they may put off estate planning, believing they do not need to address the issue until they're in their old age, or they may simply think it's not important. In fact, according to one report, 56 percent of people in the United States have not drafted a will. This is unfortunate, because without an estate plan in place a person's assets will be distributed per state intestacy laws, rather than how the person might have chosen.

In general, if a person has children and has not left a will or trust, state law will distribute the person's estate to their spouse or children. However, things become more complicated if a person is unmarried and does not have children, if a person is living with someone but is not married or even if a person is married but does not have children. In these situations, without an estate plan, a person's final wishes may not be met.

Take, for example, music superstar Prince. He passed away without an estate plan. Therefore, his estate has had to go through probate, and almost a year later things still haven't been resolved. Failing to leave an estate plan can result in unintentional beneficiaries, and the possibility for the matter to be contested by a person's heirs.

When it comes to estate planning, a good place to start is to create a will and, through a financial and medical power of attorney, select someone to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. A person may also want to designate beneficiaries to any life insurance policies or retirement accounts. These beneficiaries can be relatives or even a charity.

In the end, neglecting to create an estate plan can lead to problems down the road. Without an estate plan, not only does a person have no say as to who will inherit assets, but without a power of attorney a person's relatives may face a situation in which they have to make tough medical or financial decisions without knowing what their loved one would truly want. For those without children, estate planning can be crucial to ensuring that their end of life wishes are met.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, "Estate Planning Is Important for People Without Children," Debbie Carlson, Feb. 16, 2017

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