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What do you do with an estate if you are childless and unmarried?

For some people, marriage simply isn't in their future. Whether it's by choice or because of the cards they have been dealt in life, these people oftentimes reach retirement age without any children or a spouse. Although there is nothing innately wrong with being a single retiree, it does present a major problem for your estate plan: what happens to your assets when you die?

The average person typically leaves their estate to their spouse, children and other immediate family members in their will. In most states, including here in Florida, the law creates a clear line of succession for the distribution of property and assets, even if a person never establishes a will. But for the unmarried and childless, the question then becomes: who do you leave your stuff to?

Though it may not seem so, there are a lot of options for people who do not marry or don't have children. The first and perhaps most obvious answer is to leave assets and belongings to relatives and friends in a will. Another option is to donate a chunk of your estate to charity or establish a trust for your old alma mater.

Whatever your decision ends up being, it's important to have and establish a clear plan before it's too late. As we have said before on this blog, life is unpredictable. You could suddenly become incapacitated tomorrow; and without a clear plan, your loved ones will have little to no idea what your wishes are.

Many people are overwhelmed by the estate planning process because they only have a general understanding of what they need to do when they reach a certain age. To avoid frustration, or possible mistakes, speak to a lawyer knowledgeable in estate planning and can help you make the decisions that are best for your situation.

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