We highly advise that you make an estate plan even if you don’t have children. We firmly believe everyone should have one.
The truth is, everyone needs an estate plan. It’s just that some people need them more. The consequences of not having an estate plan when you have kids are bigger, as it’ll affect the children too. But there are still significant consequences that couples with no children will face.
Here are key reasons to have an estate plan if you don’t have children:
Essential Areas of an Estate Plan, If You Don’t Have Children:
A will is a legally binding document that records your wishes for estate distribution and how you want your death to be treated (such as your funeral).
Without a valid will, the Florida Statutes and the probate court will make the determination for you.
Having a will as a couple without kids will allow you to determine how assets and belongings are treated. For example, while you might be happy for your wife to inherit everything, does she really want your baseball card collection? Or would that be better for your nephew?
Also, if you and your spouse were to pass away in an accident then you would allow your wishes to be kept.
Read Related: Florida Estate Planning Guide: The Essentials Made Easy
Couples who aren’t parents can also consider a trust. You can add terms and conditions, such as milestones, for relatives to receive assets held in trusts.
Many couples without children like to give their assets away to charity when they pass away. To do so, you must have an estate plan in place. Our Florida estate planning lawyers can help you create an estate plan if you don’t have children, such as by creating up a trust or drafting your will.
Power of Attorney
If you become incapacitated or are out of the country, who will take care of important financial or legal matters on your behalf? Say hello to a Power of Attorney. This appointed individual has the authority to represent you, rather than having a court decide on your behalf.
Advance directives are the only way to record your medical preference, such as medication, treatment choices and life support decisions. Having them in place can significantly reduce the trauma and burden placed on loved ones in these heartbreaking scenarios.
Key Reasons to Have an Estate Plan
To Avoid Intestate Succession
In Florida, if you die without a will then your estate will be distributed per Florida’s intestate succession laws.
You will have no say in what happens to your savings and assets. Here’s why that’s important:
- Without a will, your estate will be distributed via Intestate laws.
- Your surviving spouse would inherit everything.
- That might seem ok, but then when they pass away, everything would be distributed via intestate laws too, or their will – not your wishes. So people who you’d rather not get a share would or those that you’d want to receive assets, might not.
For Incapacity Planning
If you become incapacitated without any plans in place and your spouse isn’t around to make decisions on your behalf, then someone else will have to. Without incapacity planning, you won’t get to decide who this person is.
Also, you won’t have left any instructions for them to follow. This is also true if your spouse makes a decision on your behalf. With no instructions, a lot of stress and burden is placed on them which can be horrible to experience.
To Control Estate Administration
If you create an estate plan without children, you can appoint an executor who will administer your estate when you pass away. Without an estate plan, the probate court will determine who this individual is. Would you like to have a random person decide to take authority over your estate? Or would you rather pre-select a trusted individual?
To Bypass Probate
Probate is a lengthy, stressful and often expensive process. You may not want your spouse and other relatives to have to endure this process after you pass away.
With a solid estate plan that uses a trust, you can allow your estate to bypass probate. This can allow your surviving spouse to gain access to your money and other assets almost immediately.
For Medicaid Planning
If you’re of a certain age, it is wise to start thinking long-term about how you will afford care if required in your latter year.
Medicaid planning can help you qualify for Medicaid in Florida even if your income and asset levels exceed the maximum limits.
Medicaid planning should start at least 5 years in advance of any Medicaid application, as there is a 5-year lookback period for expenditure and gifting.
To Protect Your Pet
For many married couples without children, their family includes a cute and much-loved pet.
Whether you have a doggo, kitty or another treasured animal, your estate plan can ensure they’re cared for if you pass away before them.
The most secure way to do this is via a Pet Trust. Pet Trusts secure funds for the pet’s benefit only. A Trustee will be appointed to spend the funds on expenses such as medication, food, grooming, pet care, treats, toy and veterinary bills.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today in Riverview and St. Petersburg
If you need any assistance with creating an estate plan as a couple with no children, our Florida estate planning lawyers can help.
We welcome you to contact our Florida estate planning attorneys today for a free consultation if you have any questions or wish to get started.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create a water-tight estate plan that protects your rights and wishes.