Planning Your Estate When You Don’t Have Children

planning your estate

Planning Your Estate When You Don’t Have Children

Facing choices that consider the end of life is difficult. Planning your estate when you don’t have children may present even more significant complications. With no children, you may skip estate planning. But it’s still critically important. Knowing how to proceed, what documents to prepare, and choosing where your worldly possessions and finances will go requires some careful consideration and research. Seeking legal help makes sense, but what do you ask for? Your personal needs will determine what services you require.

 

Writing a Will is Only the First Step

Planning to pass your worldly goods on usually begins with the discussion of your will. A will provides a place for you to lay out where you want your assets to go, who will take care of children or pets, how to handle your leftover financial obligations, and serves as a backup to any trusts. That last point is quite important. Your will may say one thing while a trust says another. Integrating the documents you leave behind is essential. Make sure your legal advisor has all the necessary documentation so that your instructions all point in the same direction.

 

Using a Trust to Name Beneficiaries

Trusts are where you designate who receives certain assets. Where will the house go? Who will receive your personal belongings? The importance of having a trust rises with the number of assets and an increase in the value of those assets. The last thing you want is for the State to determine where your home or other vital property winds up. Don’t just leave such matters as instructions in your will. Trusts in conjunction with a will assure that your last wishes are followed.

You should also educate yourself on the different types of trusts. (This link provides a starting point.) Traditional trusts dictate where your assets will go after death, or you can set up a living trust and continue to use your assets until you pass, which makes the transfer of properties to your named beneficiaries much smoother. Such arrangements will reduce the time spent in probate.

 

Update Your Will and Your Trusts Regularly

Experts suggest re-reading and updating your will and other documentation on a regular basis, about two to five times a decade, depending on your needs. Not doing so might send your belongings or money off to an ex-spouse or a person who has passed away. When your life changes, an update of your final documents should follow.

 

Medical Power of Attorney for Peace of Mind

You should also include provisions for your health care in your elderly years, especially in the event of incapacitation. The medical power of attorney lays out numerous details regarding your care. If you do not have heirs or children, planning for your final years of care makes a lot of sense. While you may not have control over every aspect, it might surprise you to learn how many things you can dictate. Such provisions pay off early with a peace of mind.

 

Start Planning Your Estate Now

The more financial accounts and assets you have, the more carefully you will need to lay out your final instructions. Arranging now where your belongings will go, who will have power of attorney, and who will receive your monies will all avoid unnecessary anxiety later on. By taking action now, planning your estate when you don’t have children does not have to be something that keeps you up at night.

 

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons / CC0 Public Domain

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