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Why you need an estate plan if you're young and single

Americans are staying single for longer -- often through their 20s and into their 30s. Often single people don't have any kind of estate plan in place, particularly if they have no children and don't yet own a home or have significant assets.

However, even if you opt not to yet draw up a will, there are a couple of estate planning documents that you should have in place to protect you, ensure that your wishes are respected and save your loved ones considerable stress, time and money should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. That can happen in a blink of an eye in a car crash or due to some other injury.

Many young people, to the extent that they even contemplate this possibility, assume that their parents will be able to take care of their financial obligations and make health care decisions for them. However, they can't do this for adult children unless they've been granted legal permission, which is either given by their child in advance or they go to court to get it.

One estate planning expert recommends getting a health care proxy and durable power of attorney to give the person(s) you designate the authority to handle these two important areas.

Often, young people choose to designate one or both parents or perhaps an older sibling as their POAs. Some prefer to name their significant other. Just remember that if you and that person break up, you'll likely want to change that.

An experienced California estate planning attorney can discuss your individual situation with you and help you determine what documents you should have in place and what other steps you should take to best to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Source: Morningstar, "Estate-Planning for Singles," Christine Benz, accessed July 19, 2017

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