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Estate planning for individuals without children

Many people in Florida write a will for the first time after having children. Although children are a great motivation for estate planning, people without children should plan their estates too. Without obvious heirs like children, it can be more difficult to determine where the property of decedents should go after they die.

The state law of intestacy determines where and how the assets of a person who dies without a will are to be distributed. In some cases, the decedent's property could end up in the hands of the state. An unmarried person with no children may want to create a will to ensure that their assets are left to family members, friends or charity. A couple could also create 'sweetheart wills" if they wish to leave all of their assets to each other.

Making sure assets are distributed to the correct beneficiaries is just one of the reasons estate planning is important. A comprehensive estate plan also includes health care directives so that a person's wishes about emergency procedures are known. A power of attorney should also be set up as part of an estate plan so that a certain friend or family member will have the authority to act on financial matters should the principal become incapacitated.

An estate planning attorney may be able to assist an individual with the process of creating a comprehensive estate plan. Though people may prepare one before they have children, estate planning documents can always be modified once children are born or another significant life change occurs. Estate plans can also be redrafted in response to changes in federal estate tax laws.

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