While comprehensive estate planning can certainly be a difficult process, there are some things that remain rather constant. Most parents will choose to leave the bulk of their estate to their surviving spouse and/or their children, with the surviving spouse typically leaving the remainder of the estate to children. However, it is not uncommon for individuals thinking about retirement and other aspects of estate planning to not have children and/or not be married. When those situations arise, many of those individuals find it challenging to determine how they would like to distribute their estate and to decide whom they should nominate to make important decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the myriad options available to you, and a recent article from CNBC can help you start exploring your options.
Shaping Your Will
According to the article, a 2016 survey indicated that 64 percent of Americans do not have a Will in place. While the survey did not focus on childless adults, it is safe to say that many of those individuals do not have a Will in place, either. When you die without leaving a Will, your state has a statute that determines to whom your estate will be distributed.
You will need to appoint someone you trust to be the executor of your estate once you have the proper documents in place. If you do not have close family members or friends that you trust to undertake this responsibility, you may be able to reach out to your financial institution or even your estate planning attorney for information on nominating an individual affiliated with those entities. Many people prefer this option over selecting even a friend close to them in age simply because if something happens to that individual, then your nomination will be useless. Business entities, on the other hand, will likely be able to continue operation regardless of the transition their employees may make.
You will also need to nominate someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot or to have power of attorney if you become incapacitated and cannot legally make your own decisions. Creating a living will can help guide your healthcare choices, and you should select someone that you trust with such responsibility. When it comes to power of attorney, failing to nominate anyone could cause the state to nominate an individual to make those decisions for you, and that person may not have a relationship with you. Sometimes, choosing a lifelong friend or even a spiritual advisor can help alleviate some of the stress of these decisions.
Find Your Passion
Most people are passionate about something. If you find yourself having difficulty trying to determine what should happen to your estate, then you should think about the various things you are personally passionate about. There are many worthwhile charities that would be happy to receive all or part of your estate. You can even take steps such as establishing a foundation for charitable giving. If you are passionate about education, you could establish a scholarship fund. You might want to make use of a trust for these purposes, or you may start to engage in this type of charitable giving while you are still alive. Whatever your choice, your estate planning attorney can help you navigate this difficult process.