Estate Planning with No Children
For some people without children, estate planning may not seem necessary. In some cases, people might also think that estate planning is only for the wealthy, and may not apply to them. It may also seem like a stressful endeavor not worth undertaking with no obvious heirs, such as children.
Despite those concerns, everyone needs an estate plan, kids or not. Here is why:
The government has rules for when you are alive and when you pass away. If you do not take planning into your hands, the government will do so for you. This can mean losing control of your financial assets if you become incapacitated and losing control of your medical decisions. Proper estate planning ensures that you can control who steps in your shoes in the event you cannot act for yourself. Additionally, if you do not leave a last will and testament, your assets will be divided by the state, according to how the state sees fit. You will have no say over who will get your assets and what you are leaving behind when you pass away. The way your assets will be divided may not be aligned with your wishes. The state may include bloodline family members that you did not want to receive assets and exclude non-blood-related loved ones that you would have like included.
Establishing an Estate Plan
Just because you do not have children or grandchildren, does not mean you do not have other family members, friends, or favorite charities you would like to see benefit from your lifetime of hard work.
Your estate plan should also include a power of attorney, which is someone who can make financial decisions on your behalf. A health care proxy, someone that can make medical decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated, is also critical. This can be the same person for both directives, or a different person for each. You may also want to consider incorporating an advanced directive or living will in your estate planning. These documents will define the type of medical care you would, or would not, like to receive in the case that you have become incapacitated, and cannot communicate your wishes. An example of this would be laying out your plans for artificial life support if it were necessary to keep you alive.
Getting your affairs in order, and developing an estate plan does not have to be difficult or complicated.
Selecting an Executor of Your Will
One of the most important decisions you will have to make revolves around who you would like to be the executor of your will. This person will carry out your wishes, so it should be someone you trust to do this, and someone with the capacity to do it. Having a conversation with the person you have in mind is a good idea, as you can gauge how they feel about taking on the responsibility.
Choosing who you would like to make financial and medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated is also a big decision to make. Again, this should be someone who you trust implicitly to follow your wishes and make tough decisions on your behalf. This is extra important if something not covered in your estate plan was to happen. Naming alternate choices may also be a good idea.
Distributing Your Assets
Think about who you want your assets to go to. It may be friends or family members. It may also be a charitable organization that means a lot to you. A charitable trust is one way to ensure that funds are distributed to the charity of your choice at the time of your death.
You may also want to consider if your pets are provided for at the time of your death. To most people, pets are like family, and it may important to you to know that they will be provided for. You can choose someone to take care of them, as well as setting up a trust for their care.
The future is unpredictable, and no one knows what it holds. However, setting up an estate plan can give you peace of mind, knowing that your assets will be going to the right beneficiaries and that your pets will be cared for.
Contact The Mattar Firm
If you have been thinking about setting up an estate plan, now may be the time to speak with our trust attorneys at The Mattar Firm. Our experienced estate planning attorneys will be able to guide you through the process, and help give you control over your estate. Contact us today at 239-222-2222 or 844-444-4444.