To be fair, a huge part of a Savannah estate planning lawyer’s job is to help parents determine how best to take care of their children once they are gone. In the case of minor children, this might revolve around choosing legal guardians, setting up educational trusts, and making sure there is someone to manage any assets left for the kids. But, parents never stop being parents and even those whose children are grown often use their estates as a way to pass on what wealth they can to their children.
But what about those who don’t have children? What do those with money and no kids direct their estate planning lawyers to do?
Who Are These People?
There are actually quite a lot of unmarried folks out there who are doing their estate planning. In some cases, these are folks who are older and are lining things up for retirement. While there’s the interesting question of where their money should go, there are also some pragmatic concerns. For example, who will have the responsibility of making decisions for the individual if he or she becomes somehow unable to do so? Who will be the executor of the estate?
Younger folks may have their parents or siblings in the picture, as well as nieces and nephews; but there are still concerns. Because of the number of entrepreneurs and tech-related jobs that became very lucrative, there are a number of younger men and women out there who have come into money before they’ve even had the opportunity to get married and/or start a family.
Charitable Giving Is an Option
Of course, many of the people described above will want at least a portion of their estate to go to family members. Aunts and uncles may want to set up college funds for their siblings’ kids, for example, or to make sure that Mom and Dad are set for retirement. But young or old, many people are showing an interest in leaving some of their wealth to charitable causes.
Will and trust lawyers in Savannah sometimes refer to this as “legacy planning.” The individual identifies a cause that he or she is particularly interested in supporting and then names that cause as a beneficiary in the will or on certain accounts or policies. A growing version of philanthropic giving for younger folks is the donor-advised fund. These work sort of like mutual funds, where the individual contributes money to a group of funds where they can be held (and added to) over a period of years, to be released to the charitable cause as directed by the donor—or, they can be distributed to the cause immediately.
Planning Early Is Key
The fact that an individual does not have children does not make the need for estate planning any less important. Arguably, these men and women have more incentive to make their wishes legally binding and known, as there’s no passive option to just “leave everything to the kids.” Hardworking individuals likely want a say in what happens to the money they’ve accumulated over their lifetime, and of course, a say in who can make medical or financial decisions for them in an emergency. There may be charities they choose to benefit with their wealth, or ways to support other causes they believe in. Estate planning is what makes all of this possible for adults without children who desire some level of input and control over their future affairs.