If you do not have children or a spouse to include in an estate plan, the first thought may be family and friends. That is probably a good place to start.
If you do not have any children or a spouse, there are many options available for creating an estate plan that benefits others, according to nj.com in “Single without kids? Who should be your heir?” This is not an unusual situation and an estate planning attorney will be able to help you examine your options. You have many choices, although it may not seem that way at first glance.
Yes, start with considering family members. If you leave money to older siblings who are dependent upon programs like Medicaid, you might put their financial situation at risk. If the older sibling dies shortly after receiving the inheritance, then the money will be part of their estate.
If you decide to leave assets to your siblings and have a will properly prepared by an estate planning attorney, then the assets will be distributed according to the terms of the will, regardless of how the siblings feel about it. Is it likely that there will be a will contest? If no, then make an informed decision based on how you want your assets distributed.
There are other things that you can do with your assets. Consider making a charitable donation to an organization you have been involved with during your lifetime or one that shares your values and goals. A scholarship to your college or to a local community group would be greatly appreciated and may create a lasting legacy to your memory. You can also give with “warm hands,” which is making charitable donations while you are alive, to nonprofit organizations. That way you can enjoy seeing the impact of your gift, while you are alive.
Make sure to consider the tax ramifications of any estate plan. There may be an inheritance tax in your state that will have a significant impact on the inheritance. Will your heirs be able to afford that?
Sit down with an estate planning attorney and talk about what it is you'd like your estate to achieve after you've passed.
Resource:nj.com (July 20, 2018) “Single without kids? Who should be your heir?”