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Estate planning for taxpayers without kids

If you’re single with no kids or married without kids, you have some unique estate planning needs. You’ll require special strategies for health care, emergencies, and division of your estate.

Plan for extra care costs. Growing older without a built-in support team may mean you’ll have extra expenses for care. You may need to hire people to check in with you, to run errands or to drive you to appointments. If you plan to rely on younger family members or friends, talk to them about what they’re willing to do and revisit those conversations often.

Plan for an emergency. Plan to take care of yourself if you become incapacitated. Certain tools can make that easier for the people who are going to step up to help you.

Arrange power of attorney and health care proxies. These documents enable you to designate who will make financial and healthcare-related decisions for you if you are no longer able.

Consider funding a revocable trust. If you set up a revocable trust and fund it now, your trustee will be able to use those funds for your care if you become incapacitated. Without such a trust, someone close to you would have to petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator. That’s costly, time-consuming and stressful, and puts critical decisions for your well-being in the hands of a judge.

Make a will. For people without a will, state law generally dictates that assets go to a spouse or children. But distributing your assets is more complicated if you are single without kids or part of an unmarried cohabitating couple.

Think about your legacy and how you want your assets distributed. You may consider gifts to charity or lifetime gifts to certain family and friends, or the use of age-benchmarks that determine when young beneficiaries receive their gifts. A will ensures you get to decide how your assets are distributed, not a probate court judge.

Talk with your estate-planning attorney to help you review your finances and assess your plan.

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