Estate planning for couples without children

Some New Jersey couples might think that if they do not have children, they do not need an estate plan. However, estate plans are not just for passing on wealth to the next generation. They can also help protect people and allow them to decide what becomes of their assets after their death.

When people do not have children, they may have other plans for their assets. They might want to leave them to friends, a charity or even to pets. There may be advantages to careful planning. For example, if a couple wishes to leave assets to a charity, a charitable trust might be the best way to do it.

Health care planning is another important aspect of estate planning. If people become too ill to express their wishes regarding health care, their spouses usually step in to make the decision. If the spouse is unable to do so, this usually falls to the children. People without children may need to appoint a patient advocate who can fill this role. They should discuss their wishes with this person and put paperwork in place to give the person this power. Creating powers of attorney that deal with health care and financial matters may also help prevent people without immediate family members from being taken advantage of by others.

A couple might want to talk to their attorney about creating a comprehensive estate plan based on their particular situation. What types of assets a couple has, their age and who they want to leave their assets to may all be factors in the creation of the estate plan. For example, the couple may want to set up a trust that provides income for a beneficiary while leaving the rest to charity upon the beneficiary's death.

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