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Estate planning for people with no children

Fifty-six percent of people in the United States admit to not having a will, and the results of a 2016 Gallup survey indicate that a majority of Americans have failed to designate how their estate should be allocated after their death. New York residents should be aware that some basic estate planning is necessary, even for those who have no children.

If an individual has children, most state intestacy laws will designate a spouse or the children as heirs when there is no will in place. But there can be complications for individuals who are single with no children, people who are cohabiting and even married couples with no children.

At the very least, an estate plan should have a will as well as powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. The powers of attorney will be useful if an individual become incapacitated and is unable to make decisions on his or her own.

Individuals should give careful consideration to who their beneficiaries should be after they have established their powers of attorney. Some people who have no children may opt to name their nieces and nephews as their heirs. However, it is important that they speak to their family members about the gifts.

Charities are another option for people with no children. These individuals can give themselves a tax break and time to choose a charity by creating a donor-advised fund, which would permit the person placing money in the fund to claim a current-year tax deduction estate planning attorney law may advise a client of the appropriate documents to use. The attorney could also review an existing estate plan in order to ensure that the documents reflect the client's current financial and family status.

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