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Estate planning for singles

Although many people may think that the majority of Americans are married, the truth is that for women over the age of 65, more than 53 percent were not married and 26 percent of men were single. These statistics show that there are millions of single Americans who may need to think about what will happen to their assets when they die. Estate administration for singles is important in making sure that the assets are passed down to their intended heirs.

When a single person dies without a will or trust their assets are usually passed down through bloodlines. Children would be first, followed by parents if they're still alive, then siblings, distant relatives and finally to the state if no living relatives have been found. If a person has other people in mind to receive their assets, like a friend or a charity, they need to create a will and a revocable living trust stating their intentions.

Also, if a single person does not designate a person to handle financial and medical matters, a family member will be appointed or even a state representative. A single person should appoint a power of attorney and a health-care directive so that their wishes are carried out both financially and medically.

Accounts that have beneficiaries assigned to them, such as a 401K should be updated in the event of a divorce as regardless of what a will or trust says, those accounts will be passed to the designated beneficiary.

Single people may want to seek the advice of a legal professional who specializes in estate planning. They can help review a single person's assets and wishes and develop a plan that a person can be comfortable with.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Estate-planning essentials for single people," Carolyn T. Geer, Dec. 7, 2014

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