Estate Planning for the Childless

When childless individuals or couples come to us about creating an estate plan in the Colorado Springs and Centennial ,Colorado area, there are a number of specific issues we make sure to talk about. The estate planning issues that childless individuals or couples have to address are the same basic issues that all estate plans address, but in a slightly different way. So, if you are a single or married person who does not have children, here is what you should know.

Incapacitation When You are Childless

When people with children create incapacity plans, they often rely on their children to perform specific responsibilities. For example, it’s very common for people with children to make advance medical directives that name one or more of those children as their medical representatives in the event the parents become incapacitated. Should the parents lose the ability to communicate or make choices, the children will have the legal authority to step in to make choices on that parent’s behalf under the terms of the medical directive.

But childless individuals or couples don’t have children they can call upon to represent their wishes upon incapacitation. Nevertheless, they still need representatives to make choices for them should the need arise. In most situations, childless individuals or couples can call upon younger siblings or family members, or close friends or trusted advisors.

Childless Inheritances

Another key estate planning issue that childless individuals or couples need to address is the question of inheritances. Inheritances plans typically divide an estate by, at least in part, giving it to the parent’s children. While parents might also choose to distribute property to other relatives, charities, or other people or organizations, the children usually have a prominent place when it comes to inheritances.

For childless people, the situation is, again, a little different. Most people who don’t have children choose to distribute their property to family members, friends, charities, or other organizations or causes they support.

It’s also important to point out even though you might not have children, Colorado state law has already determined who will inherit your property should you die without an estate plan. Depending on your circumstances, your property could be inherited by you spouse, your parents, your siblings, more distant relatives, or even the state of Colorado yourself.

Pet Plans

People who do not have children might still be responsible for the care of others. We’re talking about pets. Those of us at Hammond Law Group that own pet treat them just like family, so we understand the importance of planning for pets!  Though pets cannot own property or receive inheritances like children, you can nevertheless make plans for the care and well being of your animals when you craft an estate plan. A good pet plan will ensure that your pets will be cared for if you cannot care for them yourself.

Upcoming Estate Planning Workshop

For more information on estate planning, be sure to attend our last estate planning workshop of the year on December 4th! Catherine will talk about the differences between a will and trust, the trouble with joint tenancy, and other important issues.  There is limited space available, so be sure to register soon!

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google