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People often focus on married individuals when they hear about the importance of estate planning. However, an estate plan is just as critical for a single person in Maryland as it is for a married person with kids. In many situations, single people may simply need to take different steps when it comes to estate planning.

Many single individuals own assets in their own names. They may also be joint tenants with regard to other assets and have the right of survivorship. Other types of assets, including retirement assets or life insurance, will ended up being distributed upon a single person's death based on the assets' beneficiary designation terms. The beneficiary designations and how all of these types of assets are titled will have a direct impact on who will control these assets and the way in which they will be distributed when the single person dies.

If single individuals die with no will, their possessions will be distributed based on their particular states' default laws. This usually means that a single person's closest relatives will end up with his or her assets. These relatives include parents, siblings or children, for example. Otherwise, if there are not any relatives, the assets will go directly to the state. For married people, a married person's assets usually go to the individual's spouse or kids.

Not having an estate plan that is well-coordinated can be detrimental to both single and married individuals. This is because the state will have to decide the fate of an individual's assets, and the decision may not be in line with the person's wishes. Proper legal guidance may help people develop a will that ensures that their assets will be distributed as they see fit when they die. It is also important to create a durable power of attorney document, which makes sure that their daily financial affairs will be managed appropriately in the event they become incapacitated in Maryland.

Source: Douglas Rothermich, "Estate planning for single people", Douglas Rothermich, July 25, 2015

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