Couples without dependents are becoming more common, but these couples often face unique challenges regarding estate planning. If you are among the many couples without dependents in Massachusetts, creating an estate plan may seem complicated but can be critical without obvious heirs. Whether you leave your assets to a friend or a charity, it’s important that you and your partner plan ahead by creating an estate plan.
The Southeastern Massachusetts law firm Surprenant & Beneski, PC, has decades of experience helping clients plan for their financial future. If you are a couple without dependents, our team of dedicated attorneys can assist your family with your unique needs using creative estate planning strategies. Contact Surprenant & Beneski, PC today to schedule your initial consultation.
Protecting Your Partner or Spouse
If you do not have dependents, there are many estate planning decisions to make to protect your legacy. Creating a will-based or trust-based estate plan will ensure your wishes are followed. Whether you choose to leave your assets to a charity, a friend, or another family member, creating an estate plan allows you to decide what happens to your assets. If one partner or spouse passes away or becomes incapacitated without a trust or will, the surviving partner may be left without financial and legal protection.
An estate planning attorney can help you utilize all the tools at your disposal to help protect your partner, such as a will, trust, advance healthcare directive, and durable power of attorney. Taking the time to engage in upfront estate planning can ensure that you and your partner have sufficient protection while avoiding probate. It can also help you maintain privacy regarding your estate plan and personal finances.
A common concern among couples without dependents is whether they will have enough money to provide for themselves throughout their lifetime. Couples without dependents don’t necessarily need to leave money behind for their children. However, couples without dependents need to ensure that their assets allow them a comfortable life throughout their retirement years. An estate planning attorney can help you protect your retirement assets and develop strategies for paying healthcare, long-term care, and nursing home costs.
Engaging in Healthcare Planning
When people consider what it means to create an estate plan, they often focus on creating a will or trust. However, one of the most important aspects of estate planning involves healthcare planning. If you or your spouse or partner can no longer make decisions for yourself, you will need to appoint an agent who can make those decisions on your behalf.
Many people appoint a child to act as their agent. Designating your partner, a trusted friend, or an extended family member can help you ensure that your preferences are followed for couples without dependents. Should you become incapacitated, the person you appoint to act as your agent in your advance healthcare directive will be able to act as a medical proxy for you.
When it comes to making financial decisions, such as paying your bills, you can create a durable power of attorney and appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Engaging in long-term care planning can also help you and your partner afford the medical care you may need in the future. Many families cannot afford long-term care in a nursing home, and their private health insurance does not cover these long-term stays. Your estate planning attorney can help protect your assets and become eligible for MassHealth benefits that cover long-term nursing stays.
No Dependents? Meeting Your Personal and Charitable Goals
In many cases, couples without dependents are not as concerned about preserving wealth for future generations because they don’t have children and grandchildren. Instead, couples without dependents often focus their estate-planning goals on distributing their assets to their friends, the charity or charities of their choice, or extended family members. Many couples without dependents choose to create a charitable remainder trust. Charitable trusts are irrevocable trusts that allow people to save on their estate and income taxes while planning for charitable giving.
Charitable trusts set up your assets in a way that benefits you during your lifetime and a charity after you pass away. Charitable trusts offer many financial advantages and you can transfer nonessential assets into the trust, including real estate or stocks. These types of trusts allow a childless couple to use and live off of their own assets until they pass away. After you pass away, the remaining assets in the trust are distributed to a charity of their choice. When a couple has significant or complex charitable gifts, they may benefit from a separate charitable trust.
Not Your Typical Dependents: Providing for Your Pets
Many couples without dependents are pet owners and want to make sure that their pets are taken care of when they are no longer here. An estate planning attorney can help you appoint a trusted individual to take possession of your pet or pets after you pass away. They can also care for your pet according to your wishes. You can create a pet trust that includes assets that are designated for the pet’s care. The person you appoint to care for your pet will be required to provide excellent care for your pet in order to receive payment for their services.
Begin Sooner, Not Later
The thought of creating an estate plan may seem overwhelming, and you may feel a lack of urgency. However, everyone needs an estate plan, including single individuals and couples without dependents. The sooner you begin working on your comprehensive estate plan, the better, especially when it comes to nursing home planning. We recommend reaching out to one of the experienced attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, PC, to discuss estate planning advantages for couples without dependents.
Reach Out to an Estate Planning Attorney in Southeastern Massachusetts
Estate planning for couples without dependents should also prepare you for the possibility of needing long-term health care or becoming incapacitated. Contact the skilled Southeastern Massachusetts estate planning attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, PC, to schedule your initial consultation and begin the estate planning process.