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The importance of estate planning for people without children

Some people in Ohio might think that because they are single or have no children, an estate plan is not necessary. However, complications for unmarried people or those without children still occur. Generally, state laws will pass decedents' assets onto their spouses and children if there is no will, and this often correctly reflects the intentions of the deceased individual. However, if a couple without children dies within minutes of one another, the family of the spouse who died last may receive all the assets. In an unmarried couple, the deceased's siblings might get all assets, leaving his or her partner with nothing.

At the bare minimum, an individual should create a will and designate power of attorney. A power of attorney appoints someone to oversee an individual's finances and medical care should that person become incapacitated. Doctors will often turn to their patients' spouse to make medical decisions in the absence of a power of attorney. However, if the patient is not married to his or her partner, then medical professionals could rely on someone else, of whom he or she would not approve, to make important decisions.

It's also important for people to name beneficiaries. Those who do not have children could choose to leave their assets to nieces and nephews or charity.

People who are interested in creating estate plans may want to consult with an attorney. Doing so will help them ensure that their documents are prepared correctly and contain the correct legal language. Without the guidance of an experienced lawyer, someone could end up expressing their wishes in a way that is unclear or not legally enforceable. An attorney also may be able to inform someone about other estate planning tools, such as trusts, that could help him or her manage assets and pass them onto the right beneficiaries.

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