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Estate Planning

Estate Planning For Childless Couples (Complete Guide)

Ty McDuffey

December 30, 2022

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A widespread misconception about estate planning is that it is exclusively for married couples or people with kids.

Even though estate planning is essential for parents, it is also essential for individuals who do not have children.

However, estate planning for childless couples can be a challenging undertaking. 

You and your spouse will need to sit down and talk about each of your assets and choose an executor. 

These may be challenging talks to conduct with or without kids.

An estate plan must be made available to ensure that your desires are carried out in the event of your death. 

Fortunately, whether you have children or not, Trustworthy strives to make the estate planning procedure as straightforward as possible. 

With Trustworthy, you can share and revise your estate planning documents with your spouse in one safe, convenient place. Try your 14-day free trial with Trustworthy today. 

Before you start estate planning, the following article will help address the following concerns:

  • Is a will necessary if you do not have children?

  • How to create an estate plan in the absence of children

  • Estate planning suggestions for childless couples

What Is the Inheritance Hierarchy?

While the procedure varies by state, the inheritance hierarchy often proceeds as follows: 

  1. Surviving spouse

  2. Children

  3. Grandchildren

If no relatives can be found, your assets may be distributed to your parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews, nieces, or even the state.

Is a Will Necessary if You Do Not Have Children?

For many people, having a family is a significant indication that it is time to create an estate plan. 

In actuality, various life events can serve as triggers to begin estate planning. 

One estate planning benchmark is to write a will when you reach the age of 18, but you might also want to start estate planning when you get married, open a savings account, or travel overseas. 

Each of these occasions is significant because a comprehensive estate plan entails more than simply handing along family items. 

Those who do not have kids still have assets and cash that they might leave to others, such as their family members, surviving spouses, or charity organizations. 

Estate planning is the safest way to guarantee that your last intentions are carried out and that your spouse is cared for after death. Your estate plan may also function as a healthcare directive if you cannot make such choices.

How to Create an Estate Plan in the Absence of Children

When you have no kids, estate planning will require facing some potentially tricky questions concerning your end-of-life preferences. 

Most importantly, you must decide on a healthcare directive and how you'd like your assets to be allocated. 

The next stage in estate planning without kids is deciding where you want your money and assets to go. This might include inheritances to nieces and nephews, siblings, family acquaintances, and even philanthropic organizations. 

The essential thing to remember when delegating your assets is to do it in a manner that is comfortable for you. 

How to Appoint an Executor in Your Will

Next, it is crucial to select an executor for your will.

An executor's responsibility is to carry out the provisions of your last will. 

An executor is a person in charge of final financial matters, debt payments, and asset distribution. 

The idea is to choose someone you can trust for the task. You may select a brother, nephew, niece, or close acquaintance. You may choose whomever you want as long as they decide to play the part.

You may still be thinking, "I don't have anyone to be the executor of my will," and that's OK. For various reasons, such as living far away, friends and family often cannot take on the position. 

It is advised in these instances to appoint a professional executor, such as a lawyer or an accountant. By hiring an expert, you can ensure that even the most intricate estate plans are completed properly. Even couples with kids may choose to hire a professional.

Estate Planning Suggestions for Childless Couples

Without kids or heirs in mind, estate planning might be scary. Here are a few more pointers to get you started:

  • It is always possible to leave assets to charity: If you're wondering what to do if you don't have heirs, try giving money to a charity that you support. Many people will give cash or assets to organizations they support to lower total estate taxes.

  • Be bold and seek expert assistance: If you need clarification on how the estate planning procedure works without kids, contact a professional attorney to assist you with the estate planning process.

  • Begin planning early: In our world, anything can happen. You should create an estate plan as soon as feasible. This will assist in guaranteeing that your healthcare desires are carried out, and your assets are protected.

Should I Get Authority via a Power of Attorney?

Who will make financial choices on your behalf if you and your spouse become incapacitated? A power of attorney (POA) allows you to choose someone.

You may use this agreement to designate someone to manage tasks such as paying bills, managing investments, and dealing with property concerns if you are unable to do so yourself. 

This person will have a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interests, but they will also have a lot of unrestricted authority to act on your behalf, so select someone you truly trust.

POAs are classified into three types:

  1. Durable power of attorney: begins when you sign it and continues in force throughout your lifetime, even if you become incompetent. You may designate which sectors your POA will cover, such as investing, banking, real estate, and so on.

  2. Springing POA: With this sort of document, you decide when it becomes effective (for instance, if you become incapacitated). Make the "springing" occurrence clear, so there is no mistake.

  3. General POA: It takes effect immediately after you sign it, and you may revoke it at any time, but it expires if you become disabled.

Don't Forget to Think About Your Pets

Many childless couples have pets that they adore as much as a kid. If you are one of them, you must prepare for their care when you cannot care for them yourself. 

You could name someone in your will to care for your animal, but that person may not want the responsibility. So, if that's the road you want to follow, be sure the person you've chosen agrees to be your pet's caregiver ahead of time.

You may also put money into a trust for the animal's care, or you can choose an organization that will provide lifelong care for your pet using the money you set aside for that reason. 

Nonprofits such as paws.org, for example, will offer lifelong care for your animal if you make a bequest to them. For further information, please contact the organization directly.

Making Plans for Long-Term Care

Whether or not you have children, budgeting for long-term care costs is an important aspect of any financial strategy. 

One of the most popular misunderstandings regarding long-term care is that it will be paid for by the government, which is not always the case. 

The average annual cost of residential care facility fees is on the rise. These costs must be included in any long-term financial strategy. 

Before giving or spending large quantities of money, a financial planner should consider the expense of care costs to ensure that you can afford to pay them and do not leave yourself short in the future.

Can I Appoint Alternate Heirs?

Individuals without heirs may select a beneficiary to receive their assets rather than letting the state decide. It may be a family member, a friend, or a nonprofit organization—anyone except the lawyer who created your will. 

If you are interested in charity, you have various alternatives, including:

  1. Restricted charitable residual trusts: The contributor obtains an instant charitable deduction for the money or other property given to this irrevocable trust. The contributor also gets a stream of income from the trust for years or life, and the leftover assets are distributed to a selected charity following the donor's passing.

  2. Donor-advised funds (DAFs): The contributor makes a tax-deductible irrevocable donation of cash, stocks, or valued non-financial assets; the donor may invest funds for potential future development and suggest distributions to qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations.

  3. Private foundations: This kind of charitable organization is usually founded by an individual or a family with a tax-deductible gift and is overseen by a board of trustees or directors, who may be compensated for their actions and have control over all assets; grants are not confined to eligible 501(c)(3) charities.

The decision between these is based on personal criteria such as how much supervision you want and if additional family members will be engaged.

Before adopting one of these charitable options, consult with your financial counselor and a tax specialist with a background in charitable giving.

How Can Trustworthy Help?

Creating an estate plan is a daunting and often disregarded undertaking. 

However, the significance of a will or trust cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to estate planning for childless couples. 

These legal agreements not only delegate your possessions and belongings but may also direct end-of-life care in particular instances. 

Take the time now to plan out these options; the estate planning procedure may bring peace of mind to those who do not have children. 

If you'd like to share and revise your estate planning documents from the comfort of your own home, Trustworthy can help. Please look at our features to learn more about the Trustworthy operating system today. 

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