Did you know that over 55% of Americans do not have a will? Many of those adults have children, but many others do not have children to pass things onto. Most states dictate that, in couples with children, belongings will pass on to a spouse or the children without a will. However, things can be more complex for married couples without children. What unique considerations should be made when estate planning for couples without children?
Complications in Estate Planning for Couples Without Children
In most cases, the surviving spouse will inherit all of the assets that the couple had. What happens if both spouses pass away at the same time? Those assets might be distributed back to the families of each spouse. This often leads to unintended beneficiaries, or someone who you did not intend to receive a benefit getting one due to a lack of planning.
While this is common in estate planning for couples without children, it can also be common for singles. One recent example of this is what happened when Prince, the late musician, passed away without a will. His estate has remained in probate court for years, and it is routinely being contested. Instead of people who he would have given items to receiving them, things devolved into a “he said-she said” battle all governed by a judge.
What Do You Need to Do?
Every estate plan should include a will and powers of attorney for both health care and financial decisions. Power of attorney can become critical if you are incapacitated and unable to state your wishes and your spouse is also in a similar state. If you are incapacitated and do not have a named power of attorney and your spouse is unavailable or you are unmarried, in many cases the default will be a sibling or parent. If you are not on good terms with that person, or you are not physically or emotionally close to them, it can seriously complicate matters.
Then, you should choose your beneficiaries. When estate planning for couples without children, many times nephews or nieces are named. Many couples also name charities or other organizations in their will to leave assets and gifts to. We can assist you in determining what you would like to do with your assets and formalizing your intentions in a will.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Estate Planning for Couples Without Children
If you are seeking assistance in Maryland as part of your estate planning and unsure of how to proceed, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.