Clients who are childless or unmarried face unique challenges when it comes to creating an estate plan. They may be unsure who should inherit their property or who to trust with their important decisions if they become incapacitated, and this confusion can lead them to put off these decisions. Unfortunately, a failure to plan only creates problems later—and could mean that all assets end up going to the state.
Estate Planning for Individuals Who Are Single or Childless
It is vital for everyone, regardless of marital or parental status, to have an estate plan in place. Without a valid will, state courts will determine who inherits your property and possessions, which may cause conflict among your survivors. If you have no living relatives, it is especially helpful to contact an attorney for help with your estate plan, as we can help you choose third-parties to fulfill these obligations.
We can advise you on the many delicate decisions which must be made during estate planning, including those involving your:
- Executor. Even if you have created a last will and testament outlining what should happen to assets you leave behind, you will need to appoint someone to ensure that these instructions are carried out.
- Beneficiary designations. It is critical to create clear instructions on who is, and is not, entitled to your property. This includes designating beneficiaries (such as nieces and nephews) in your will, but also updating beneficiary designations on your bank accounts, 401(k) plans, and life insurance policies. Beneficiaries on financial accounts are completely separate from designations in your will, meaning an ex-spouse or partner could still inherit the assets if the information was never updated.
- Healthcare proxy. You must designate someone who will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. While this can be difficult, we can help guide your proxy by drafting a living will that clearly states your wishes for medical care.
- Financial power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will allow someone to act as your agent if you are unable to pay bills or make other financial decisions.
- Pets. If you have one or more pets, you can choose which relatives should care for them after your passing and earmark certain funds to be spent on their care.
- Charitable giving. If you have significant assets, you may wish to designate an amount to be given to your favorite charity, or even set up a charitable trust to distribute funds (such as grants or scholarships) over a specific amount of time.
Whether you have already created your will or are starting from square one, our legal team can walk you through the estate planning process and ensure your wishes are respected. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your estate plan.