What If You’re Single and Don’t Have Children? Who Are Your Beneficiaries?

Estate planning can seem fairly simple when you have children to leave your estate to. But what if you don’t have obvious beneficiaries?

These days, many singles are planning to marry and have children much later in life. This doesn’t mean that estate planning can be delayed. It is just as important for singles with no children to get started with estate planning early. Here’s why –

What Happens If I Die Intestate?

Dying “intestate” means passing away without leaving a Last Will. If you’re married with no kids, your estate will automatically pass to your surviving spouse. In California, the registered domestic partner is just as entitled as a legal spouse to your estate when you die intestate.

But If you’re single and suddenly die without leaving a will, the court will distribute your assets and property to your nearest relative. They may be people you don’t know or don’t intend to leave your estate to.

Who Will Inherit My Estate?

For single and childless individuals without a named beneficiary, the intestate succession hierarchy is as follows –
  1. Your parents
  2. Your siblings, or if they have passed away, your nieces/nephews
  3. Your grandparents, and if they have passed away, your aunts and/or uncles
  4. Any children of your deceased spouse
  5. Any relatives of your deceased spouse
  6. Your state of legal residence

Whom Do I Want To Inherit My Estate Instead?

Having an estate plan allows you to determine who inherits your assets and property. Instead of having the court decide who should be your beneficiaries, consider leaving your estate to –
  • Your romantic partner
  • Your business partner
  • Your sibling
  • Your close friend
  • Your trusted employee
  • A charity or other organization
  • A scholarship or educational institution
  • In a trust to care for a minor or a pet

How Do I Get Started With Estate Planning?

Now that you have an idea to whom you can bequeath your estate to in the absence of children or a spouse, you are ready to make your estate plan. Here are 5 simple (but not easy) initial tasks to set you on the right path –

1. Identify the Executor of your Last Will and Testament

This person is at the top of the list because they will be responsible for enforcing your plans and your wishes once you have passed away. These plans include finalizing arrangements for the funeral service, up to the distribution and closing of your estate.

2. Identify Your Medical Power of Attorney

In case you have become incapacitated and can’t voice your wishes in a medical crisis, this person will execute your personal health care decisions, or make decisions on your behalf.

3. Identify Your Beneficiaries

These are the people or organizations that you want to bequeath your assets and property after your death

4. Identify a Guardian For Your Pets

It is also important to consider naming a guardian for your beloved pets who will be responsible for their care if you pass away.

5. Identify a Successor Trustee

If you’re setting up a trust, your Successor Trustee will manage your finances and the stewardship of your estate on behalf of a minor beneficiary until they come of age.

What’s Next?

After choosing the various parties in your estate plan, and informing them of your decisions, the next phase of Estate Planning is to draft the legal documents and get your affairs in order.

Our highly experienced team at Crider Law will help you prepare your Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, Living Trust and End-of-Life Plan and ensure that these guidelines are mapped out for the successful execution of your Estate Plan.


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