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Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Legacy Assurance Plan Article: Estate Planning Tips for Childless Married Couples
Summary: Estate planning is very important
for childless couples, because the risks involved in doing nothing are great. A
childless couple who create no plan may risk disinheriting one spouse's family
as a result of intestacy laws. Failing to plan thoroughly may also create a
situation where, if you need another person to make medical or financial
decisions for you, a very costly probate court proceeding may be required.
estate planning, in many cases, involves leaving a legacy for one's immediate
descendants: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so forth. But
today, as people live longer lives and also have smaller families, the scenario
of a married couple with no children occurs increasingly frequently. Maybe your
children predeceased you with no children of their own, or maybe you and your
spouse have no children. In either event, couples in this situation still have
very important planning needs that require a carefully thought out plan.
in this situation should be keenly aware of the risk posed by doing nothing.
The rules of inheritance enshrined in state law, known as the "intestacy
laws," will govern what happens to your assets if you do nothing. In many
states, this could mean that the surviving spouse inherits everything owned by
the spouse who dies first, and then all of both spouses' assets are
distributed, upon the death of the second spouse, to the relatives of that
second-to-die spouse, leaving the family of the first-to-die spouse receiving
nothing. One possible method for avoiding this situation is creating a joint
living trust. With a properly funded living trust, the wealth of both spouses
is held in trust for the couple, managed by the couple and then, after the
death of both spouses, distributed to those loved ones chosen by both spouses.
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if you as a couple have relatives but do not wish to leave your assets to them,
but rather to distribute your wealth to friends or charities, a plan is
extremely important in this circumstance, too. If, for example, you've both
agreed that you will leave all your collective wealth to the ASPCA when you
die, each of your can create matching wills that establish that distribution.
You can also use a living trust to accomplish this objective.
element of your plan that childless couples must consider is their powers of
attorney and living wills. For many people, deciding who will be their surrogate
decision-makers can be fairly straight-forward. They may name their spouse as
the primary agent, with one or more children as alternate agents. For a married
person with no children, he/she may name his/her spouse as the primary agent,
but thorough planning also typically includes naming one or more secondary
agents in the event your spouse is deceased, incapacitated or otherwise not
able to do this task. It is often helpful if the individuals serving as
secondary agents are younger than you. If you become ill or incapacitated and
need someone else to make financial or healthcare decisions for you, and all of
your agents named in your plan are deceased or incapacitated, a probate court
proceeding may be necessary, which can cost thousands of dollars.
This article is
published by the Legacy Assurance Plan and is intended for general informational
purposes only. Some information may not apply to your situation. It does not,
nor is it intended, to constitute legal advice. You should consult with an
attorney regarding any specific questions about probate, living probate or
other estate planning matters. Legacy Assurance Plan is an estate planning
services-company and is not a lawyer or law firm and is not engaged in the
practice of law. For more information about this and other estate planning
matters visit our website at www.legacyassuranceplan.com.