If you are single, you may not give much thought to creating an estate plan. Without a spouse or kids to look after, you do not have to think too much about taking care of anyone else after you pass, right? The truth is that everyone, no matter their relationship or marital status, needs an estate plan.

Forbes focuses on the reasons single individuals will do well to cultivate a solid estate plan. Learn how you can protect yourself and your assets.

Do not leave your life (or death) up to the state

If you die without an estate plan in place, North Carolina will handle your assets and possessions, which may happen in a way you would not like. Usually, this means your next of kin inherits your possessions and assets, but you may prefer that your assets stay out of the hands of your closest relative.

The will

One of the first (and most essential) components of your estate that you need to put together is a will. This is where you note how and to whom you want your assets distributed. You also need to name an executor who carries your wishes.

Health care directive

What if you fall into a coma or are otherwise unable to speak for yourself regarding medical decisions? Your health care directive speaks with your voice concerning the type of medical care and treatment you do and do not want.

Power of attorney

You may also need someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. You can name this person in your power of attorney, and it should be someone who is good with money and has your complete trust.

Beneficiaries

Who do you want to inherit your investments, possessions, real estate and other assets? Note your beneficiaries in your will, and be sure these individuals know they act as your named beneficiaries. If you change your mind about who your beneficiaries are, make a legal change to your estate plan ASAP.