As the population becomes more and more career-oriented, more individuals and couples are choosing to forego having children and instead focus more on their careers. As a result, the question of whether an estate plan is needed comes up often. Many may be surprised to find that estate planning is just as beneficial for those without children (and those who plan to not have children in the future) as it is for those who do have children.
Most individuals mistakenly believe that estate planning consists of securing wealth for later generations only. While estate planning does consist of providing for one’s future generations, it is also advantageous for individuals with not children at all. Documents such as a will, power of attorney, revocable trust and living will may prove beneficial to all individuals. The following list is a few of the many benefits that couples and individuals with or without children may enjoy with proper estate planning.
- Personal Financial and Charitable Goals. Individuals without children or grandchildren often wish to leave their assets to other family members and charitable causes upon their death; without an estate plan, state law decides whom will inherit your assets. An estate plan is exactly where someone without kids may express their personal and charitable intentions. In fact, more complex planning through charitable trusts may be a more beneficial gifting vehicle rather than a simple outright gift. Charitable trusts are an effective way to save on income and estate taxes, secure a monetary benefit, and give to charity.
- Advanced Medical Directives and Health Care Planning. An Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) is important for any individual over the age of 18, and particularly important for couples with no children. In an AMD document someone is named to make health care decisions if an individual becomes incapable of making those decisions for himself or herself. This includes the authority to make end-of-life decisions. For most families, as a parent(s) ages, children will assist their parent(s) with health care matters and naturally step into the role of a caretaker. Thus, a person or couple with children will often name a child to make their healthcare decisions, following the other spouse’s death or disability. However, for those with no children, apart from the immediate connection between husband and wife, that sort of relationship is often missing. Thus, selecting a having an AMD written by an estate planning attorney and discussing health care goals with the person assigned in the AMD becomes of great importance.
- Avoiding Financial Exploitation. One sad reality that we must face is that as we age we often become more susceptible to financial exploitation. This is particularly true for those who do not have children or grandchildren to watch for and prevent this sort of abuse. Therefore, establishing a long term care and financial plan early on is invaluable. By doing so, those without children can engage the appropriate parties, such as professionals, friends, or more distant family members to carry out their plan. In addition, an estate plan can be drafted to include specific provisions to help avoid potential future exploitation through fiduciary, distribution, or accounting provisions.
The above list includes only a few of the many benefits that estate planning may provide for those with or without children. For more information please contact our office.