How does estate planning work without children or other heirs?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Estate Planning

For some people, estate planning is a very simple process. They want most or all of their property to pass to specific members of their family. Many people leave resources for their spouses to ensure their comfort in the future.

However, children are often the main beneficiaries of an estate. Parents want to give their children as much support as possible after they die. Some people select other close family members as their heirs. They might leave resources to their nieces and nephews if they do not have children of their own, for example.

Some people do not have any heirs who they need to protect or leave an inheritance for when they die. How can someone without children or other heirs create a viable estate plan?

Testators can choose their own beneficiaries

Anyone can be a beneficiary of an estate when people have control over their legacies. They can choose any person or even certain charitable organization as beneficiaries when they create their estate plans. Wills and trusts can name specific people to inherit the resources from someone’s estate. The person planning their estate gets to choose who inherits their property, so long as their instructions don’t violate the law.

Without an estate plan, intestate succession rules determine what happens to property. Typically, someone’s assets pass to their closest surviving family members. If someone doesn’t want their parents or their cousins to inherit from their estate, they need to plan ahead of time. People can name distant relatives, close friends and even charitable causes as their primary beneficiaries. The creation of written documents is crucial for those without immediate family members to inherit from their estates.

Those without heirs may also lack family support

Another important estate planning consideration for someone without heirs is that they may lack family support in an emergency. They may want to draft advance directives and powers of attorney so that they don’t experience financial hardship or receive the wrong type of medical support after an incapacitating incident.

Those who don’t have immediate family members often need to consider estate planning even more carefully than those who worry about the future protection of their children. Sitting down to create an estate plan can give someone peace of mind and allow them to leave a positive impact on the world. Estate plans give someone control over their legacy regardless of their personal circumstances.