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For the unmarried: how should you deal with your estate plan?

Given just how important it is to have an estate plan, and given that these estate plans often refer to spouses or children that the testator may have, it raises this simple, but important, question: what do people who have never been married do with their estate plans?

Well, to put it simply, they can do whatever they want with them. That's the beauty of estate plans. They are there to be crafted by the individual (within the confines of the law, obviously) in any way that person chooses. So, really, no matter what your family situation is, you're allowed to make your estate plan however you see fit.

 

That said, many people are going to complete their estate plans in ways that benefit their spouse or children. So when there is no spouse or children involved, that person will likely look towards lifelong friends, trusted business partners, and mentors -- in addition to their family -- as beneficiaries. Of course, things can change over the years. So if that individual falls out of touch with certain friends who are named in the estate plan -- or if that special someone wanders into your life -- then an alteration to the estate plan will likely be necessary.

There are other options for beneficiaries as well. Charities are often chosen as beneficiaries in estate plans by people who have no spouse or children. You could also donate to your alma mater through your estate plan. The choice is up to you, and if you need help along the way, an experienced estate planning attorney could give you the guidance you need.

Source: FindLaw, "Estate Planning for the Never-Married," Accessed Nov. 12, 2015

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