Due to the marriage rate of persons age 25 and older decreasing and the rate of children born to women age 40 to 44 have increased, estate planning of people not married and without children should be addressed. Estate planning for unmarried individuals and those without children is very important because if you fail to do anything, California’s intestacy laws would apply which may mean your estate would be left to relatives you did not intend to receive your estate. Further, if you require medical attention, those making important decisions could be left in the hands of friends or family that are far removed and you would not have chose to make those decisions.
A typical misconception is that if one does not have children, the estate planning would not be necessary as the estate plans, including a trust and will, are drafted to protect minor children and to ensure your children receive your estate. The need to indicate beneficiaries and trustees is of great importance if one does not have children or a spouse because it is not as obvious who a single person would want their estate and assets to go to. More importantly, a single person must find a trustworthy person for medical and financial decisions in the event of incapacity.
If you do not have children, the first persons to receive your estate would be your parents under California’s intestacy laws. If your parents are deceased, then your siblings would receive your estate. If your siblings are deceased, then it would be your nephews and nieces. If you did not have siblings, then your estate would go to aunts and uncles, and if they are deceased, your cousins.
The amounts that will be given to beneficiaries should also be of great concern during the decision making for an estate plan, but can always be altered or changed completely. Another good idea to take into consideration is that the financial and medical decision makers should be separate because typically family members and close friends would have a difficult time coping with grieving and also handling the estate planning matters. When deciding on the beneficiaries and medical authorities, one should take all factors into consideration before making a decision, and if a better person is decided upon at a later time, can always be changed. All estate planning documents should be reviewed and revised every five years to ensure that all assets and decisions on beneficiaries are up to date.
It is never too early to begin a draft of your estate plan. In order to get the process started, contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220 for a complimentary initial consultation.