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Estate planning in the absence of heirs

Everyone assumes that people who don't have any living family members don't need to create an estate plan. This is far from the truth. Just because you don't have any heirs right now doesn't mean that you have to let the state seize your assets upon your death.

Instead of placing your estate's future in the hands of the state's intestate laws, you can take action to ensure that you have a plan in place for your assets. You must think carefully about where you want them to go.

One of the first things that you need to consider is what causes you are passionate about. You can use this as a springboard to find charities or programs that can benefit from your asset when you are gone.

You should realize that you don't have to wait until you die to support your favorite causes. You can set up gifts to them now if you are financially able. You could even start a program of your own. For example, you might choose to start a scholarship program at a local school or your alma mater.

If you start something now, you might also need to plan for when you are gone. You can set up charitable trusts to ensure that your wishes are followed when the time comes. You aren't limited to supporting only one cause, so make sure that you think about branching out to more than one charity if you choose to go this way.

Knowing that you don't have any heirs to leave your assets to can be a hard pill to swallow. Make sure that you are thinking clearly about your wishes and the potential impact of your assets.

Source: CNBC, "Planning your estate when you've got no children or heirs," Sarah O'Brien, accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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