Many people may wonder what the point is of creating estate plans if they do not have any children or other heirs to which they want to pass on their assets. This is a reasonable thought. However, estate planning is something that all California residents can benefit from; it is not meant just for those who have kids.
Whether by personal choice or a lack of opportunity, numerous people do not have children. Some may even not have close friends or family members to whom they want to pass on assets or feel are trustworthy to handle their estates as desired. While this may be the case, it does not mean that such individuals want the court to decide to where their assets will go. Unfortunately, this is what will happen if one dies without a will or other estate planning documents in place.
So, where should one's assets go if not to family or friends? Some like to gift their assets to their favorite charities. This is actually a very common choice and assets can start being distributed before one's death.
There are various other concerns that one might have if one lacks beneficiaries; such as, who should be named as a personal representative? Banks or other professional trust firms do exist to take on this role. What about powers of attorney? Here one can name a personal representative to handle one's financial and medical affairs, but a living will can be left to give a personal representative directions so that one's wishes are actually honored.
There is a lot to consider if one does not have children or other beneficiaries to whom one can pass on his or her estate. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist California residents in such positions. One's legal counsel can provide guidance about what estate planning documents are actually needed and take the steps to ensure desired protections are put in place.
Source: CNBC, "Planning your estate when you've got no children or heirs", Sarah O'Brien, May 31, 2017