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Estate planning considerations for those without children

Often, estate planning discussions revolve around inheritance. For people who have children, estate planning can have a focus on distributing wealth along the traditional generational path.

However, many couples and independent Pennsylvania residents don't have children. Instead, their lives and legacies have other purposes and passions. As a result, estate planning can reflect these other facets of your life. Nonparents have a wide range of options and decisions to make regarding end-of-life care and passing along assets to others.

Philanthropy

For those who don't need to worry about the financial futures of their children, donating funds from your estate can be a very personal choice. If there is an important cause to which you want to contribute, you can consider several ways to donate. For example, you could name your favorite charity as the beneficiary of a trust. The opportunities to use your legacy for philanthropy can be complex, so seek legal guidance to ensure that your assets land in the right hands.

End-of-life care

With age, your health may eventually decline naturally. If you do not have children, there are still ways to ensure that you receive the care you need. Advanced care directives allow you to make your wishes known to medical professionals if you are unable to communicate those wishes someday. In addition, you can grant someone you trust the durable power of attorney for healthcare. This person would then have the legal ability to make specific medical choices for you if you were unable to make them yourself. Although many people choose their child as a default, this person can be another relative, spouse or trusted friend.

Update the plan frequently

A parent is likely to have a fairly steady estate plan if they leave everything to their children, but a nonparent may be more likely to experience changes over time. Relationships with beneficiaries could be in greater flux over the years. If you want your neighbor to inherit your car, for example, but they move away and you lose touch, you may want to choose someone else to inherit your car.

People who don't have children may have a less straightforward path while estate planning, but they also have a high degree of freedom. If you are ready to begin your estate strategy, you can learn about all of the options available to you before making a decision.

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