In Texas and elsewhere, single and childless individuals may have considerable wealth yet be perplexed how to distribute it during and after death. There are 17 million unmarried Americans over age 65. Additionally, young people who amass relatively high wealth prior to marriage or having children are more prominent than before. This puts a lot of people in the same category: they need to have an estate plan so that the state does not administer and take their assets arbitrarily after their death. An orderly estate administration should be set in place for one’s appointed executor to distribute assets according to the decedent’s wishes.
One option for those who will be without surviving relatives, or with surviving relatives they don’t want to favor, is charitable giving. One certified financial planner warns his clients that if they don’t set up an estate plan, the state will take their assets. In many cases, that is reported to be a powerful motivator.
The childless and unmarried individual is also well-advised to make an estate plan to take care of certain events that may develop while still alive. He or she may become disabled and unable to carry on one’s affairs, either temporarily or permanently, and be in need of a trusted friend to take care of those affairs during the disability. That is done through a durable power of attorney.
Without the power of attorney, the state will appoint a guardian, at considerable expense, to take care of the incompetent person’s affairs. The guardian may take actions contrary to what the disabled individual would have wanted. Health care directives describing health care choices should also be drawn up; without these, health care decisions could be made that one would not have chosen or desired.
In Texas, the individual also makes a last will designating the distribution of one’s estate assets after death. The individual greatly benefits by having a trusted executor appointed to process one’s estate administration, and others for assistance during life. In those ways, the unmarried individual with no children can exert the maximum amount of control desired over his or her assets during and after death.
Source: Reuters, "Estate planning for the young, rich and childless", Beth Pinsker, June 2, 2014