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Finding the estate plan tailored to your individual needs

Life can be very different for St. Paul residents depending on their family make-up. Individuals who are married and have children typically occupy their time and lifestyle differently from those who are single or who do not have children.

A person's family circumstances can also have a great impact on their distribution of assets after death. Often, parents choose an estate plan that leaves their assets to their surviving spouse and children, although this is not always the case. Individuals without children may find it more preferable to leave a bulk or all of their estate to charity, instead of other family heirs.

Indeed, with many more women choosing not to have children, more women and spouses may find themselves searching for an estate plan design that will accommodate their wishes. Individuals should give some thought to what legacy they want to leave, and whether they would like to donate to organizations that have been a part of their life.

If individuals choose a charity to bequeath their assets to, they can develop a relationship with that organization, if they have not already done so before. This will enable the person to see whether the organization is a proper fit for them.

There are also other benefits to charitable gifting, in addition to the positive impact the person will leave behind. For instance, by gifting during life to the charity, individuals can reduce the size of their estate, which can have the effect of reducing any estate taxes the person's estate may have to pay. The lifetime gifts can also result in an income tax deduction.

The bottom line is that every person's estate plan should be tailored to meet his or her individual circumstances. There is no "one size fits all" approach in estate planning, and therefore individuals should strongly consider what plan works best for them, and how to best implement that plan.

Source: The New York Times, "In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First," Caitlin Kelly, May 2, 2014

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