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Why is estate planning key, even for singles?

Many individuals who are tasked with saying what comes to mind when they hear the term "estate planning" often mention wealthy, elderly individuals with kids drafting wills. This phrase means so much more than that though. Estate planning is an important process that all individuals, including those who are young, single, childless and have little means should also engage in.

Single individuals should draft wills even if they don't have kids. Everyone needs to appoint an executor of their estate to settle up with their creditors, to file their final tax return and to pay any estate taxes that they may owe. If you don't have any kids and have decided to place your money in a revocable trust, then you may wish to have your executor designated as the beneficiary of it.

If you've built up your savings, then you may be concerned about how estate taxes may reduce how much of an inheritance that your beneficiaries may receive. You may be able to set up a charitable trust to keep this from happening. You can reduce your tax burden and contribute to a cause that you value by doing this.

Another step that you may want to take if you're single is setting up a revocable trust.

This is a particularly important financial instrument to have in place if you have a significant other or non-immediate family member that you wish to leave assets to. If you pass away without a will, then North Carolina's intestate succession rules would apply. You maintain more control over your financial assets both while you're alive and once you're gone by designating your beneficiaries and funding a revocable trust.

If you're single, then you'll also want to draft both a health care proxy and a power of attorney. These will allow someone else to make important medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You should draft a will to ensure that this individual can continue making important decisions on your behalf once you've passed away.

Single, childless individuals often lose track of the fact that life doesn't last forever. This is why they frequently delay sitting down to plan their estate.

An attorney can help you plan for the future so that the wealth that you've amassed over your lifetime goes to the individuals and causes that you cherish the most once you're gone.

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