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Whether or not you have kids, estate planning is important

One major role an estate plan can play is that it can allow a parent to set up protections for their children. For example, they can set up provisions directing who will care for their children if they pass away while the kids are still minors and set up provisions aimed at providing after-death financial support to the kids. Thus, proper estate planning can be very important for parents. 

A false assumption that should not be drawn from this though is that estate planning isn't as important if you don't have kids. On the contrary, ignoring or needlessly putting off estate planning could be very damaging for a person without children.

For one, it could cause them to lose out on important opportunities to help protect their own interests in the event they someday become incapacitated. Documents such as powers of attorney and health care directives can allow a person to direct what will happen with health care decisions and financial decisions if they become incapacitated. Without such documents, a person could be leaving what happens if they become incapacitated up to chance.

Also, failing to establish an estate plan could expose a person without children to a major risk of their estate being distributed in a very different way than they would want upon their death. Just because a person has no kids doesn't mean they don't have strong feelings regarding what will happen with their estate when they die. For example, they may have family members they want to leave assets to, non-family members they desire to leave after-death gifts to, charities they wish to support or beloved pets they want to ensure continue to receive good care. Wills, trusts and other estate planning devices can help with such goals. Without putting an estate plan in place to control asset distribution, a person leaves how their estate will be distributed under the control of state intestacy statutes. This could lead to a result they wouldn't like, such as someone they care about dearly being left out of the distribution. 

Thus, whether a person is a parent or has no kids, meeting with an estate planning attorney to talk about what estate planning steps they should consider taking can be wise. Whatever your circumstances, estate planning is not something to ignore. 

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "No Kids? You Still Need an Estate Plan," Molly McCluskey, Oct. 14, 2015

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