If you don’t have children to leave your estate to, what’s there to do?

The main estate planning tasks for childless couples are determining what to do with your property after you die and designating who will handle your medical and financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

Without a will or trust, the state will decide who gets your assets – generally your spouse if you have no children, then your spouse’s relatives after he or she dies, or the state if there are no living relatives, says a story in the Wall Street Journal.

That leaves the family of the first spouse to be left out. If you don’t want to disinherit your relatives, or if you’d like to leave something to friends or charity, you need a plan, the story says.

You and your spouse can have sweetheart wills in which you each leave everything to each other and outlining who gets what after you both die.

Or you can transfer your assets, during life or at death, to a joint revocable living trust which would spell out how everything gets distributed. This helps avoid probate.

Still, the surviving spouse can change the trust or will so the ultimate disposition really depends on who lives longer.

And be careful to name the right person to make medical and financial decisions for you. If you don’t have children, it may be hard to find someone you can trust. But it is not a good idea to name just your spouse, the story says. There should be a plan B, in which a younger person is named as a successor to your spouse.

You should consider paying such a person or at least including them in your will, the story adds.

If you have questions about estate planning, feel free to call us for a consultation at (626) 696-3145.

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