Unique Estate Planning Considerations for Childless Couples

For childless couples, estate planning presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we understand that your estate planning needs are distinct from those of couples with children. Our firm has successfully helped numerous childless couples in Southeastern Massachusetts deal with the financial and personal aspects of these complexities. We provide customized documents and advice tailored specifically to your circumstances.

Protecting Assets as a Childless Couple

Childless couples often require specific strategies to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes. One effective tool is the use of trusts. A Revocable Living Trust, for example, can help manage and protect assets during your lifetime and beyond, offering privacy and avoiding probate. Additionally, establishing a Tenancy by the Entirety for real estate or other significant assets can protect such assets from the individual creditors of one spouse.

Handling Taxes as a Childless Couple

Without dependents, childless couples may face different tax implications, particularly in terms of federal estate taxes and potential state inheritance taxes. Massachusetts, while not imposing an inheritance tax, does have an estate tax with a threshold of $1 million, which can quickly be reached without proper planning. Our skilled estate planning attorneys know how to use marital deduction provisions and irrevocable life insurance trusts strategically to help minimize the taxable estate, in order to reduce the overall estate tax burden.

Planning for a Comfortable Retirement

Retirement planning without children may mean more travel and adventure or just more relaxation. Either way, it’s vital to spend some time thinking about who will assist you as you both age and how your needs will be met. Childless couples should consider long-term care insurance to cover potential extended care needs, reducing the risk of depleting retirement savings. 

Additionally, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy are essential documents that allow trusted representatives to manage your finances and make medical decisions if you become unable to do so yourselves. While most couples assign such important roles to their spouses, it is wise to consider what will happen if your partner is not able when needed. 

Legacies and Charitable Giving

While many childless couples may decide to leave sizable assets to younger siblings, nieces, nephews, or close friends, but may often leave a legacy through charitable giving. Our lawyers can help you establish a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) that will provide you with a lifetime income, significant tax breaks, and the satisfaction of supporting a cause you care about after you pass. Such a trust not only helps the charity but also allows you to reduce your taxable estate.

Planning for Incapacity and Long-Term Care

It’s crucial for everyone, including childless couples, to plan for potential incapacity due to injury, illness, or old age. As part of a sensible estate plan, several documents are vital to this process. 

Health care proxy: names the person each of you has chosen to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make such decisions for yourself. While the person named is typically your spouse/partner, there are times when this is impossible or when it is necessary to have an alternate health care proxy.

Durable power of attorney: authorizes a trusted individual to manage your financial and legal matters if you become incapacitated, giving them the power, for example, to sign contracts and engage in banking transactions on your behalf.

Advance Directive: states your wishes in regard to which types of medical care (e.g. intubation, feeding tube) you want or do not want administered if you are at the end of your life. 

Long-term care considerations should also, as mentioned above, include who will make decisions for you if neither spouse is capable, possibly requiring the appointment of a guardian or conservator in the absence of close family members. Although dealing with these critical matters may at first seem unnerving, it will provide both of you with peace of mind going forward.

Contact Us for Estate Planning Designed Especially for You

At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we specialize in creating estate plans that meet the specific needs of childless couples throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. Whether you are concerned about asset protection, tax implications, retirement, or creating a charitable legacy, our experienced team is here to provide you with the personalized guidance and support you need. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you prepare for a secure future that reflects your values and goals.