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Pocatello Estate Planning for a Couple With no Children

By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

The world we live in is full of both beauty and variety. People, families, relationships and friendships are all different for everyone in the world which is what makes it such a wonderful place to live. Because of the variety that exists in the world, estate planning is something that must be customized to fit the specific circumstances of each persona. In other words, there is no one-size fits all estate plan that will meet the needs of everyone.

The great news is that this is why we do what we do. The premier Pocatello estate planning team of attorneys at the Racine Law Office have assisted numerous clients for more than 70 years in the creation and completion of customized estate plans that meet the needs of each of our clients. We have the knowledge and experience necessary to understand what the needs of our clients are. We then work with each client to create a plan that meets their unique circumstances. Our goal is to protect our clients while they are alive and to provide a plan to allow them to distribute their money, property and assets to their own family friends and loves ones after they have passed away.

The specific need for a customized estate plan is especially important when we are working with a couple that has no children. When this is the situation the ability to rely on the “normal” people we would naturally think of, such as children isn’t an option and we need to come up with different options. We have the skill and ability to help you determine who you want to be appointed to help you. The purpose of this article is to discuss three specific topics that will help you understand the options that are available to you through your Pocatello estate planning if you are a couple that has no kids.

Taking Care of You if You Need Help

One of the first questions we discuss with our clients is about who they believe would help them later in life if they need help. When asked this question, most parents with adult children naturally list their children as the individuals they want to help them with their finances, property and health care decisions if they aren’t able to do these things themselves any longer. We are focusing on specific documents in their written estate plan including their durable power of attorney and their health care power of attorney. However, when a couple has no children to help them do these things we need to think about other options.  

The starting place for a couple with no children is easy. Married couples almost always choose each other first. What we want to do is to have a comprehensive estate plan that goes beyond the obvious. If your spouse could not do these things for you, and you have no children, then who should you think about next?

When faced with this question, we usually direct our clients to think about other family members. This could include parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and so forth. If none of these family members are able or willing to help you then we move on to more distant relatives or to a good friend that could be trusted to help with your finances, property and health care. If none of these are available you may be able to identify a religious leader such as a pastor, or a bishop, or so forth that you may be close to that may be willing to help. Again, if this isn’t an option you may still have the ability to rely on your professional relationships. You may have a financial advisor or accountant or attorney who may be willing to help you. A final option may be naming an assisted living center that you are comfortable with who could do these things for you.  

Appointing a Personal Representative

The next part of your estate planning that needs to be considered is who will take care of your estate and distribute your property after you have passed away. When you have a surviving spouse they are usually the first person you consider naming as your personal representative. However, we need to plan beyond your spouse in case you outlive them. If your spouse cannot be your personal representative you should consider using the same options that are listed above, which includes parents, siblings, other family relatives, close friends, a religious leader, or professionals. If none of these are real options, you may also consider naming the individual or charity that you are leaving your estate to as the beneficiary to also be your personal representative.

A person who is listed as a beneficiary in a last will and testament is also able to serve as the personal representative. In many ways this could be a great choice. This is because this person or charity is in the best position to care for and make sure that the estate is handled they way it should be so that the distributions they receive are protected and properly cared for.

Distributing Your Money, Property and Assets

The final issue that comes up when a couple has no children is who should they leave their money, property and assets to when they pass away. A person’s estate includes everything they own. This usually consists of valuable assets but it also includes all the debts and things that are owed. Deciding who the beneficiary should be is an easy thing when both spouses are alive. Normally each spouse leaves their entire estate to their surviving spouse. Completing this type of distribution is simple. But again we are looking past the obvious and are making sure the estate plan you have will work even when your spouse passes away before you do.

When your spouse passes away before you do, then you need to decide who you would like your estate to be given to. Normally this includes the same family members listed above such as parents, siblings, and so forth. The thing we are trying to avoid is having your estate end up in the hand of the government, which is what happens if your last will and testament only names people who have already passed away. In this instance, when there is truly no family members, including any distant relatives, we suggests you consider your friends as the beneficiaries of their estate and if that doesn’t work then charities.

The charity you choose could be educational, religious, or simply helpful to a specific group. We have assisted clients who have named the Humane Society, or the NRA, or the children’s Shriners Hospital as the charitable beneficiary in their estate plan. Really any charity you want could work as a beneficiary.

As we stated in the beginning, the main purpose of this article is to help you consider all of the options you have in your estate planning if you don’t have any children. We have helped numerous clients who have been in this situation and we are confident that we can assist you too.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Pocatello lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Pocatello 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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