There is a common misconception that those who do not have kids cannot benefit from an estate plan.  Whether you don’t plan on reproducing or are considering having kids, you still need an estate plan.  Below, we explain why everyone, including those who do not have kids of their own, should have a detailed estate plan in place.

Exert Control Over the Distribution of Your Hard-earned Assets

Those who lack an estate plan allow probate court judges to determine how their assets are distributed.  Judges are unfamiliar with an individual’s unique desires in terms of asset distribution as well as the dynamics of that person’s family.  This means if the judge determines how savings, investments and other assets will be distributed, the end result will likely sow seeds of disharmony amongst loved ones.  You can avoid such an outcome by proactively establishing an estate plan with the assistance of a certified estate planner (CEP) and certified financial planner (CFP).

Select an Executor

Your estate should have an executor clearly named.  You are free to choose from your family members, friends, attorney and other planning professionals.  In fact, a family member and even a corporation can be named as co-executors. 

You Still Need a Living Will

Even if you don’t have kids, it is imperative you establish a living will.  This document communicates your desires in the event that you are diagnosed with a terminal condition or are put on life support.  Once your living will is in place, your physicians will be fully aware of how you would like to proceed in regard to end-of-life decisions.

Choose Beneficiaries

Though you might not have kids, you likely have at least one or two people in mind as potential beneficiaries of your life insurance policy and/or 401(k) plan.  These accounts do not pass through the will so it is important to be crystal clear about identifying beneficiaries for the proper distribution of your assets.  If you don’t have any kids or other close family members, consider naming charitable causes as your beneficiaries.

Identify a Healthcare Proxy

The healthcare proxy is the individual who makes decisions pertaining to your health in situations not detailed in your living will.  If you don’t have kids, don’t fret; anyone from a member of the clergy to friends and even third-party professionals can be named as a healthcare proxy.