When you have no children it is still important to plan your estate, it is old thinking to perceive estate planning as only making the right child gets the correct assets and it is all equally divided up. There are far more components, as either a single or married couple with no immediate heirs, an article from Kiplinger, “No Children? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan”, highlights the importance of tackling estate planning.
Without estate planning, if you were to become incapacitated, not even your spouse would have the legal right to make certain decisions for you if you haven’t filled out an advanced healthcare directive or a durable power of attorney for legal and financial decisions. You want to plan for incapacity to make sure that no matter what happens your wishes will be met where your health is concerned.
Planning your estate also concerns what to do with your assets, this can be a struggle especially if you do not have kids. People tend to want to make sure their elderly parents would be taken care of if they passed before them, but typically the parents pass first and then successor beneficiaries need to be named. You and your spouse will want to determine if you want your assets to go other family members, to a charity, or to close friends or those you consider to be family. In the case of charities, you can make the bequest for a general or specific purpose, and if the donation will be sizeable, you can contact them ahead of time have your gift recognized in whatever way will make you comfortable.
As you establish your estate plan, you will want to set up a trust. This is done in place of a will and is far more effective at keeping your assets out of probate and allows for more privacy. While you will still create a will for anything that might fall outside the trust, it is not the focus of your estate plan. A trust is funded with the majority of your assets and you want to appoint a successor trustee to be in charge of distributing your assets after you pass. Establishing a trust is the best course of action, especially since you don’t want to put whoever you have chosen to inherit your assets to have to go through probate.
Estate planning is a risk management tool that comes into play when you no longer are able to be a decision maker about your assets or what happens to you. Even if you do not have children, it is just as important to establish your estate plan because this will guard you and your legacy against any unwanted outcomes.
Reference: Kiplinger (February 11, 2019), “No Children? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan”