Estate planning isn’t an exciting task—it’s easy to procrastinate, or even decide you don’t need one—especially if you are single, or married without children. You wonder, Why would I need an estate plan if I don’t have anyone to pass my assets down to? But having an estate plan is important for everyone—regardless of whether or not you have children.
Below are some reasons why you may want to consider having an estate plan in place, no matter what:
You should have a durable power of attorney for your legal and financial affairs in the event you can no longer make decisions for yourself. You may think your spouse will automatically end up in charge, but actually, without the documents, your family is sure to end up in a lengthy court proceeding to find someone—who may be a stranger—to make those decisions for you.
Creating a Trust
Consider creating a trust for your assets. The trust will distribute your assets in any way you’d like after your death. There are two types of trusts—living and testamentary—and both have benefits, depending on your situation. A living trust can potentially help your family avoid probate, which is a lengthy court process that lets all your relatives (and the general public) know about your assets and how they will be distributed. If you decide to create a trust, you will want to appoint a trustee who will manage your assets and distribute it the way you want. Also, with the help of an estate planning attorney, you could hire a professional to be your trustee.
Who would get your assets if you don’t have kids? Since most of us will survive our parents, you will want a beneficiary to be named. Sometimes they are cousins, nieces and nephews, or friends and charities. This is why having an estate planning attorney is a must, so that family members you’ve never met cannot come in and take your assets.
Don’t forget that charities can be part of your estate planning. You can decide which charity to donate your assets to, and let them know beforehand to make sure your gift is used in a way you like.
Those who have pets know that our pets become members of the family. We would want them taken care of, should something happen to us. By having your pets in your estate plan, you can create a plan for who would take care of your furry family member. You can even set up a pet trust so that money goes towards taking care of your pet, from vet visits to the type of food you’d like to provide them with.
In the end, the best thing is to have a solid estate plan so that your assets are distributed in the manner you’d like, and given to the people you want, without being held up in a lengthy probate process.