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Estate planning important for Kent singles

As Kent residents may know, an increasing number of Americans find themselves spending at least part of their retirement years without a spouse. Some will fly solo through retirement due to divorce or the death of a husband or wife. Others simply choose never to marry. Although people commonly think about estate planning in terms of providing for their heirs, estate planning and long-term care planning may be equally if not more important for singles.

Single retirees should consider the importance of providing official direction for those individuals who may have to make very personal decisions in the event of the estate planner's incapacity. Simple estate planning instruments -- such as living wills, advance directives and directives to physicians -- can clearly set forth a person's end-of-life wishes.

Advance estate planning can be particularly critical for single women. On average, women live longer than men, but men of retirement age are nearly twice as likely as women to be eligible for pension benefits. For singles who hope to reserve assets for testamentary gifts, clear end-of-life care instructions can help avoid excessive and undesirable health care expenses.

Another point for singles to bear in mind is that estate assets may end up passing to distant relatives or even to the state in the absence of a will. Single retirees without children may prefer that their remaining estate assets be put to better use through gifts to charities or other non-profit organizations. Whatever the reason may be for living single during retirement, comprehensive estate planning can help Washington residents take a solid step toward smooth sailing through their golden years.

Source: CBS Boston, "Estate Planning Is Just As Important For Single Retirees," Dee Lee, June 19, 2012

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