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Estate plan guidelines for childless individuals

Georgia parents may not experience significant consequences if they die without a will. In most cases, their assets would go to their spouse or their offspring. Typically though, parents leave assets to their children in a formal estate plan. However, if a person doesn't have children, dying without a will or other estate plan documents could be problematic. This may be true whether a person is single, living with a partner or married without children.

In many cases, assets may be left to an unintended beneficiary. It is also possible that the lack of clear directions leads to a lengthy legal battle. That is the scenario facing Prince's estate as it has remained in probate court for almost a year. At a minimum, individuals should have a will and a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows another person to make decisions on an individual's behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated.

Generally, a spouse is designated as the person who makes decisions on an incapacitated person's behalf. However, it can be anyone who that person trusts to make sound decisions. In addition, individuals should think carefully about who they want their beneficiaries to be. In some cases, beneficiaries are younger family members such as nieces or nephews. However, the beneficiary could be a charity or some other entity.

The use of wills or trusts may make it easier to transfer assets after an individual passes on. An attorney may be helpful in creating new documents or reviewing those that already exist.

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