Many people who have no children wonder whether they really need an estate plan. After all, when they’re gone, does it really matter?
For people who have no children, it can be even more important for them to have a good estate plan in place. Often, the default provisions of Wisconsin law that apply in the event someone dies intestate (meaning with no will or trust) are completely inconsistent with his or her wishes. For example, under the laws of intestacy, when the first spouse dies, the estate will most likely pass to the surviving spouse. Then, upon the survivor’s death, the entire estate would pass to the surviving spouse’s parents, if they are living; otherwise, to his or her siblings, then nieces, nephews, etc., thereby effectively disinheriting the first spouse’s family. Further, many people without children have young family members they may wish to provide for, and/or they may wish to include their favorite charities.
If you have no children, another consideration is the importance of designating individuals (or institutions) who you choose to make your health care and financial decisions during any period of mental incapacity. If you don’t have an effective estate plan in place, then a judge would decide who will serve as your guardian, with no understanding of your personal wishes or your family dynamics.
Avoiding a messy court proceeding in the event of your incapacity or death and clearly providing for the orderly division and distribution of your assets upon your death provides you with peace of mind, and is the ultimate gift for your loved ones and your intended beneficiaries.
At Horn & Johnsen SC, we help individuals and families create comprehensive estate plans, including wills and revocable living trusts, with the ultimate goal of making things as easy as possible upon death or incapacity. If you are considering creating an estate plan, contact us to set up your free initial consultation.