Estate Planning Tips for Couples without Children?

If you and your spouse are child-free, you may think you don't need to think about comprehensive estate planning—but you'd be wrong. You'll still want to ensure your assets go where you'd like them to after you're gone, rather than being divvied up by the state.

An Estate Plan is important for couples who don’t have children; the focus of your financial legacy may be quite different from what it would be if you were parents.

Motley Fool’s article, “5 Estate-Planning Tips for Child-Free Couples,” suggests that you may want to leave some of your money to friends, family members, charitable organizations, or your college. No matter the beneficiaries you choose, these estate planninCouple no kidsg tips are vital for childless couples.

  1. A will. You need a will because couples without children don’t have natural heirs to inherit their wealth. If you die without a will, your assets will go to your spouse. If neither of you has a will, the state intestacy laws determine which of your family members inherit from you. The family of the first spouse to die may be disinherited. In California, if you have assets that exceed $166,250 your assets could go through probate and they distributed according to state intestacy laws.  Our recommendation is that if you have assets whose total value exceeds $166,250 that you have a trust to avoid probate and specifically name who you want your assets to go to and on what terms.
  2. A power of attorney. Who will make financial decisions for you, if you and your spouse become incapacitated? You can select a person to do this with a power of attorney (POA). You can name a person to pay bills, manage your investments and handle property matters, if you’re unable to do so yourself. The POA is no longer effective after a person is deceased.
  3. Up-to-date beneficiaries. If you have retirement accounts or life insurance policies, the distribution of the proceeds at your death is made by a beneficiary designation, not by your will. A frequent beneficiary error is not keeping those designations current.
  4. Give money to charity now. You may think about leaving your assets to organizations that have enriched your life. You can set up a trust to be sure that your money goes where you want. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
  5. Remember the pets. If you have furry children, plan for their care when you’re not around to tend to them yourself. One option is to name a person to take care of your animal in your will. You can also put money into a trust specifically intended for the animal’s care or designate an organization that will provide lifetime care for your pet with money you earmark to that purpose.

Remember that child-free couples need an estate plan, just as much as couples with children.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like your plan for safe, problem free, and successful transfer of assets to the next generation.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to review your estate plan and identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.  Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.

For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, trust law, and business planning, please visit our website and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Reference: Motley Fool (September 9, 2019) “5 Estate-Planning Tips for Child-Free Couples”

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