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How to plan your estate when you don’t have close relatives

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning is not a process that is exclusive to those with large fortunes; it is a prudent undertaking for everyone, including people who don’t have close relatives.

When you plan your estate, you’re able to outline the distribution of your assets expressly, decide on healthcare directives for your golden years and choose someone to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated. For individuals without close relatives, the need for meticulous planning arguably becomes even more critical.

Preparing for estate planning

Compiling a comprehensive inventory of your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments and personal belongings, is a good place to start as you embark on estate planning. This list can serve as an excellent foundation for your estate plan by helping ensure no assets are overlooked.

Aside from establishing a comprehensive estate plan, it would help to remember to update it when the need arises. Life is dynamic, and your estate plan should adapt to changes. Periodic reviews, especially after major life events, such as acquiring new assets or changes in personal relationships, are crucial to maintaining relevance and effectiveness.

Avoiding intestacy

A will is the foundation of any estate plan; it outlines your wishes regarding asset distribution, guardianship of dependents, and more. Trusts can also be beneficial in certain situations, providing added control over how assets are managed and distributed.

Intestacy, or dying without a will, leaves your estate subject to state laws. Without close relatives, the state will decide who inherits your assets. A carefully constructed estate plan is essential to maintain control over this process.

In the absence of close family members, selecting beneficiaries requires thoughtful consideration. Friends, charities or even organizations aligned with your values can be designated as beneficiaries. Try to ensure clarity in your wishes to avoid potential disputes.

Selecting an executor is also important; this person will be responsible for administering your estate. The individual should be trustworthy and capable of following your instructions to the letter.

Preparing for incapacitation

Granting power of attorney to a trusted individual empowers them to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Additionally, healthcare directives specify your medical preferences, helping ensure your wishes are respected in critical situations.

Planning your estate without close relatives demands a meticulous and forward-thinking approach. By consulting a legal professional who understands your unique needs, you can create a robust estate plan that reflects your values and ensures a smooth transition of your legacy.