People often use estate plans simply to designate how they are going to leave their assets to their children. Therefore, if you do not have any children, does that mean you do not need a plan?
It doesn't, but many people make the mistake of assuming that it does. That is part of the reason that the majority of Americans do not have a will.
One potential problem of passing away without a will, even with no children, is that unintended beneficiaries may end up getting everything.
For instance, one attorney points out that when a spouse passes away, assets generally pass fairly seamlessly to the other spouse. When that person passes away, however, the assets may then all go to their side of the family. After all, there are no children, so that family was really just a couple. The extended family could inherit everything as a result, and the spouse who died second owned everything that both people acquired.
Is that what you want to happen to everything you have worked for your entire life? Do you want all of your assets to just go to your in-laws? It could happen unless you create an estate plan that actually spells out your true wishes.
Even if you do not want to do anything elaborate, an estate plan can help. Maybe you want to leave assets to your extended family, to a charity or to a church. You never know what the future will bring, so make sure you know what legal steps to take to create an estate plan that will reflect your wishes.