Do I Need an Estate Plan If I Don’t Have Children?
There are a lot of misconceptions swirling around the field of estate planning. People think you don’t need an estate plan if you aren’t wealthy, if you are married and expect to pass everything to your spouse, or you’re comfortable with intestate succession in your state.
This simply isn’t the case. Even if you don’t have children or substantial assets, you absolutely need an estate plan. Learn more about your options now by calling Entz Burton & Associates at 800-633-7230.
You Absolutely Still Need an Estate Plan
Even if you do not have children, you must have an estate plan. While many people do create estate plans for the purpose of passing assets onto their children, that isn’t the only reason people aim to protect their assets through estate planning. Whether you want to leave what you’ve accumulated to your spouse, other relatives, or a charitable cause, the best way to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled is to create an estate plan with the help of an attorney.
Don’t Let Intestate Succession Determine Where Your Assets End Up
Each state has its own laws regarding intestate succession. This refers to what happens to an individual’s assets when they die without a will or trust. If you have a spouse and no children, parents, or siblings, your spouse receives everything in your estate. But, if you pass with a surviving spouse and parents, your spouse inherits all of your joint property and one-third of your other property. Your parents inherit everything else. If you pass with a spouse and siblings, your siblings receive the same share that parents would have received.
This is a big enough reason to spend some time estate planning. Many people mistakenly believe that their spouse receives everything if they pass away. It doesn’t matter if you are estranged from your parents or siblings—if you pass away with surviving family members beyond your spouse, your parents and siblings will get part of your estate by default.
Consider it this way: no matter what, you have an estate plan. But if you choose not to create your own, you are accepting the government’s default estate plan that it has for you.
Avoid Delays and Extra Expenses For Your Loved Ones
After you pass away, your estate will need to go through probate. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, as it gives creditors and others time to make claims against the estate. The process ensures that assets are properly identified and assessed, that all debts and taxes are paid, and that assets are passed out appropriately.
With estate planning, you can help your loved ones spend less time in probate or bypass the process entirely. Assets held in a trust do not have to go through probate, nor do accounts with beneficiaries.
Even if you don’t have children, you likely want to save your loved ones the expense and extra time involved with probate. Navigating the probate process while grieving makes an already painful time even worse.
It’s Not Always About Death
You may not have children that you are passing assets to—but don’t forget, estate planning isn’t just about what happens after you die. In fact, your estate plan could protect your best interests and personal preferences while you are still alive.
With an estate plan, you can establish a financial power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive. Should you become incapacitated, you want to know that your finances will be kept in good shape until you are able to take care of them on your own again. Additionally, you have likely already thought about how far you are willing to go to save your life should you end up incapacitated—making sure that those wishes are legally documented in an advance healthcare directive means that you don’t leave those important decisions to family members or loved ones.
An estate plan doesn’t just benefit those who are left behind when you pass away. It also protects you and your best wishes when you are alive but unable to advocate for yourself.
Get Started With Entz Burton & Associates
Whether you just want to learn more about your options or you already have a general idea of what you want from your estate plan, let’s come up with a plan that suits you. Call us at 800-633-7230 or send us a message online to have one of our estate planning attorneys contact you.
Attorney J. Michael Entz at Entz Burton & Associates is an experience lawyer in estate planning law, business formation and asset protection serving the families in Oklahoma City and Weatherford office.