Do you still need an estate plan if you have no heirs?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2020 | Estate Planning | 0 comments

When you have children, it is easy to imagine how you would like your estate to be dispersed after you are gone. Most people leave all or a portion of their wealth to children and the surviving spouse, along with other family members or close friends. However, not everyone has these close personal relationships, which complicates heirless estate planning. Here are a few alternatives to the traditional options to ensure your estate is in good hands after you are gone.

Charitable giving

You can contribute to worthy charities or causes you are passionate about in a few different ways. You can decide to make a donation to an existing charity by distributing your assets to it upon your death. You can also establish a trust, with funds being dispersed to certain individuals based on criteria created by you. A trust can be used to provide scholarships to college-bound high school students or grant funding for environmental preservation. Remember, state law will dictate what happens to your assets if you die without a will, so charitable giving ensures the money is used for a good cause.

Living wills

Estate planning is not just about protecting your assets. You can also set stipulations about your medical care if you are incapacitated by illness or injury. Many people name a healthcare proxy, who is a person responsible for making tough medical decisions on their behalf. When choosing a healthcare proxy, you must find a person who is not only responsible but also will to honor your wishes regarding end of life care. If you lack such a trustworthy figure in your life, you can create a living will instead. While using these options in conjunction offers the best result, healthcare staff can refer back to your living will if they are unsure of your wishes and there is no one available to provide insight.

Trusts & bank executors

After you are gone, someone will be tasked with carrying out the terms of your estate plan. Known as the executor or personal representative, this person serves an equally important role as the healthcare proxy. While most people name a family member or friend to fulfill this role, you can also choose your bank. You can also create a trust and fund it with your assets. In this case, the trustee, which can be an attorney or financial advisor, would be responsible for carrying out the necessary tasks.