Single people and estate planning

Illinois residents who do not have any children and who may be nearing retirement should still strongly consider preparing an estate plan. There are various legal documents single people should have to ensure that their wishes are honored in the event that they become unable to make decisions for themselves or after they die.

A health care proxy and a power of attorney are two documents that can prove useful while people are alive. People can use the documents to give a trusted person the authority to make important medical and financial decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. As the documents are no longer valid when someone dies, it will be necessary to also include either a will or a trust, or perhaps both, in an estate plan.

In addition to providing for bequests, the contents of a will should include the name of the executor. This fiduciary will be responsible for managing all of the decedent's affairs, placing the will in probate if needed, and paying any estate and income taxes that are due.

Another element single people should include in their estate plan is a revocable trust. This type of trust can be used while the grantor is still alive. The grantor will be the primary beneficiary and trustee and will designate to whom the assets of the trust will go after death.

An attorney who has experience in these matters can consider the unique goals and circumstances of clients and then recommend certain types of documents to include in a personalized estate plan. Assistance may be provided for properly wording certain types of wills, powers of attorney and provisions of trusts to ensure that the preferences and wishes of a client are honored in event of incapacity or death.

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