Do you need an estate plan if you don't have kids?

The vast majority of people who find estate planning imperative are those who have children. These individuals often want to make sure that their assets are left to their kids and their spouse in a way that protects their financial future and maintains the estate's financial viability. While these individuals certainly should consider how best to plan for the distribution of their estate upon death, even those without children should consider engaging in estate planning to ensure asset distribution that fits their desires.

When you pass away, someone will inherit your assets, even if you don't have children. Absent an estate plan dictating how those assets are to be distributed, state law will determine which individuals will inherit your estate. This may mean that a relative you barely know could inherit everything. By utilizing a will or trust you may avoid state-mandated distribution and utilize a distribution plan that benefits those you find deserving. Creating trusts can help you avoid the probate process, which may otherwise allow lesser known relatives the ability to intervene and try to lay claim to estate assets.

While most people focus on the distribution of assets when estate planning, that is not the only thing that should be taken into account. A power of attorney and/or health care directives can allow you to identify someone to make important financial and health care decisions in the event that you become incapacitated. Since these individuals carry a heavy responsibility, they should be chosen with care, which can be a more difficult thing to do when a person does not have a spouse or children.

Nobody likes to think about their own demise. However, if they want to ensure that their assets pass to those they most care about, then estate planning is essential.

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