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Estate planning considerations for single people without children

Many individuals in New York do not have a spouse or children to call upon for help as they age. Nationwide, approximately 19.5 million people age 65 or older live alone. For people who do not have any close relatives, issues involving financial security and long-term care during their elderly years pose extra challenges.

Like most people, singles will want to create a will to record their wishes about the distribution of assets. A will could prevent the state from sending an estate to a distant relative not of a person's choosing. Powers of attorney for financial affairs and health care should be completed as well. Single people might need more time to identify trusted individuals to grant the power to handle money or make health care decisions in the event of incapacity. Married people often name each other, but single people must draw upon other relationships to complete these important documents.

People without a spouse or children to provide care could have a greater interest in purchasing long-term care insurance. Medicare does not pay for the services that people need when they can no longer dress themselves or manage other personal chores. At the age of 65, people have a 70 percent chance of requiring long-term support. The premiums for these policies rise as people age.

A person could plan for these commonplace challenges by discussing their goals and concerns with an estate planning attorney. Legal counsel could provide detailed advice about setting up powers of attorney. During the drafting of these documents, an attorney could explain the type of events that could trigger a power of attorney assignment. For an estate owner who has asset to pass on, legal insights might also alert them to overlooked issues like taxes that heirs might have to pay.

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