Estate Planning for Those Unmarried or Without Children
While estate planning is usually discussed in the context of distributing an estate among heirs upon someone’s death, for those who are unmarried or without children, estate planning is just as critical. How your assets will be distributed upon your death and who will be responsible if you become incapacitated must still be given very careful consideration.
If you are single or without children, what happens during your lifetime may be even more important than what happens to your estate after your death. Having a carefully crafted estate plan, including a valid health care proxy and financial power of attorney, ensures that your estate and your financial welfare are being attended to while you are alive as well as after you are gone.
Who Will Manage Your Healthcare?
If you are no longer able to manage your healthcare, you want to have documents that provide for your wishes and who will manage your care and make important decisions on your behalf. A healthcare proxy will give someone else the authority to make important health care decisions for you that follow your specific wishes should you not be able to do it yourself. This can be someone who is personally close to you and not necessarily a family member.
Additionally, it is important to designate individuals who will be allowed to see or visit you in case of a hospitalization or you are placed in nursing home care. In some instances, without this directive, only family members may be allowed to see you.
Long-term care, while it should be considered by anyone, is especially critical for someone without heirs. Who will be responsible for paying for your long-term care or getting appropriate long-term care insurance is something you may want to consider. This should be discussed with your California estate planning attorney to ensure that your long-term care needs will be taken care of if you become incapacitated.
Who Will Manage Your Finances?
You should also consider who will manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. A financial power of attorney will identify one or more trusted individuals who you can rely on to take care of your financial matters. When considering a financial power of attorney, this should be someone you trust with your financial affairs and who understands them and can take over, if necessary. An experienced estate planning attorney can legally craft it to ensure that your financial institutions will accept its terms.
How Will Assets Be Distributed After Your Death?
In California, if someone dies without benefit of proper estate planning and has no spouse, children, parents, or other heirs, your assets may become absorbed by the state. This is unfortunate for someone who has spent a lifetime working hard for what they have. Having a will ensures that you choose an executor who will disburse your assets according to its terms.
When an estate goes to probate, an executor or representative of the estate will first need to locate all possible heirs who may have an interest in the estate. This can be time-consuming and complicated. An even better solution for someone who is single or has no children is a revocable living trust.
With a revocable living trust, assets are placed in the trust and managed by a trustee you have named. While you are alive, you may change the terms of the trust at any time. Upon your death, assets will be distributed according to the terms of the trust, circumventing the probate process entirely, ensuring that your assets are distributed specifically to your instructions by someone you have entrusted.
Getting Skilled Legal Assistance in California
If you are a single person or have no children, an experienced California estate planning attorney can tailor an estate plan that considers all possibilities and consequences as they apply specifically to your situation.
At the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai, we are committed to helping each client with essential estate planning needs that are specifically designed for them. Call us at 714.694.1200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your concerns or needs.