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Are you a California single? Estate planning is still important

If you are unattached or unmarried, you probably do not give much thought to your estate. However, most single Californians need an estate plan as much as those who are married do. Consider this: When a married person dies without an estate plan, his or her assets will likely be distributed to the spouse and the children. But when a single person dies without a plan, his or her assets could go the state.

Of course, the state will first attempt to locate the single person's next of kin whether it is parents, siblings or children. If no close relatives can be found, then any assets you possess will likely remain in the hands of the state. With an estate plan, you can designate how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Even if you have no relatives at all, you can leave your assets to close friends or even your favorite charities.

Another point to consider is what may happen to you if you become physically or mentally incapacitated at any point in your life. Your estate plan can include health care directives that outline your wishes should you become severely ill or incapacitated. This usually means appointing someone you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf and in accordance with your wishes.

Other estate planning elements to consider include:

-- A last will and testament

-- One or more trusts

-- Specific beneficiary designations

-- A pet trust

These are just a few of the issues to think about if you are single and do not currently have a plan in place. You can discover additional options that best meet your needs by consulting with a California estate planning attorney.

Source: Next Avenue, "Estate Planning Advice for Singles," Douglas Rothermich, accessed March 22, 2016

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