If you don’t have children, you might be wondering if there’s any real reason or benefit to planning your estate. Most people imagine that their estate will pass to someone they love, but if you don’t have children, it’s crucial to protect your assets and ensure your decisions are followed. Even without children, it’s important to focus on your financial legacy. In fact, it may be more important, especially considering your estate could be stuck in probate.
There are still plenty of options on how to give back to friends, family, and the community when planning your estate. Discuss your situation with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys in Wichita.
That’s why everyone needs estate planning regardless of how many heirs they have, if they do or do not have children, or even if they are single. Failing to leave behind a will or plan your estate means when you die, all possessions and wealth will be distributed by state law. Much of this planning also still covers major medical decisions about things like end-of-life care, if you want to be buried or cremated, and other important information regarding your post-death affairs.
If you are childless but looking into starting your estate planning, here are some tips on how to get started, as well as some of your options when picking beneficiaries.
How Do I Choose the Executor of My Estate?
When planning your estate, one of the most important first steps is naming an executor for your estate. An executor is an individual who is going to oversee and enforce your will and estate once you are unable to, so you want to pick a trusted family member or friend who is capable of managing these responsibilities. If you do pick a friend or family member for this position, it is always good to discuss this with them to be sure they are happy to assist in this position.
Alternatively, you can also establish a third party, like an accountant or an attorney, as the executor of your estate. Choosing an executor like this can give you access to additional legal expertise when planning your estate and will. It also allows friends or family to properly grieve your passing and not be saddled with the additional responsibilities of settling your affairs during a tough emotional time for them.
If I Don’t Have Children, Where Do I Leave My Assets?
When gifting a benefactor part of your estate, many immediately think of their children, but you can leave gifts and possessions to anyone important in your life. Maybe you want to leave your wealth to siblings you are close with or nieces or nephews. Others might want to name personal friends as beneficiaries. You might even want to name your parents as beneficiaries if you are dealing with a terminal illness or believe they might outlive you.
Many childless individuals also look to leave their inheritance to charities that helped them or their community over life. Aside from being able to give back to organizations that are making a difference in their communities, posthumous donations also are tax deductible, meaning the entirety of your gift goes directly toward the non-profit organization tax free. You can also begin giving back to these charities while you are still alive, with any donations being tax deductible.
It’s important when writing your will to take your pets into account, too. You want to plan who gets ownership of your furry friends after you pass away. This way, you know they go to a loving home where they are taken care of. You can also set aside a little money for any veterinary bills down the road for them.
What Is the Best Way to Plan My Estate to Maximize My Assets Values Post Death?
The best way to prepare your assets after you’ve passed away is to set up a trust fund to manage these assets so that they are combined in one location and easily transferable to the fund’s trustee. By doing this, any gifts you leave for family or friends will avoid taxes, as well as be bestowed quickly without any over complicated legal practices. There are also charitable trust options, which offer the opportunity for your gift to be carefully distributed to any of the non-profits and charities you have chosen.
Q: If I Do Not Have Children and Do Not Write a Will, Who Is Next in Line to Receive My Assets?
A: Typically, if the deceased has no surviving children, assets are first given to the parents of the deceased. If the parents are also deceased, surviving siblings are next in the line of order, each receiving an equal share. Next in the line of order is siblings’ children, and after that, there are varying rules that are applicable in individual states.
Q: Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney to Assist in Drafting My Will?
A: While it is perfectly legal to write a will without the assistance of a lawyer, hiring a lawyer can be a helpful step and give you added guidance on how best to proceed while planning your estate. An estate planning attorney knows specific rules and regulations and can help you avoid any pitfalls while creating your will.
Q: How Does Probate Work?
A: Probate covers all of the processes used by courts to ensure the provisions of a will are correctly followed and distributed. This is the process in which any beneficiaries receive their inheritance from your estate.
Q: When Should I Begin to Plan My Estate?
A: Typically, most Americans begin planning their estates no later than their early 40s, though many begin planning in their 30s. While it can be easy to put off writing a will or planning your estate, you never know what a new day can bring, so it is best to be prepared.
Contact a Skilled Wichita Estate Planning Lawyer
If you need to get started on your estate planning, a Wichita estate law attorney can assist in navigating you through the process. Contact us today for a consultation.