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The childless client: some estate planning considerations

Sometimes a would-be estate planner in California or elsewhere knows exactly who they want to leave their estate to, but is fuzzy on the details regarding asset distribution, timing considerations, trust specifics and additional concerns.

Conversely, there are also many instances where, as one financial adviser notes, "there is no family, and [a] person doesn't know who to leave their estate to."

That latter reality exists more often than many people might reasonably think, given the fact that an appreciable number of Americans giving thought to estate planning have no children or heirs, and have either never married or now live alone following the passing of a spouse.

How does one go about estate planning in such a situation? How can an individual logically proceed when, as noted in a recent online estate administration report, he or she is "unsure what should happen to assets they leave behind or whom to appoint as their proxy decision-maker?"

Candid consultation with a proven estate planning attorney can be a logical first step to take to clarify sensible strategies that might be employed to promote personal goals and ethical beliefs.

As stressed in the above-cited media focus, some people without spouses, children or other heirs logically turn to thoughts of legacy and charitable giving when they consider what might be an optimal estate disposition.

Other considerations are obviously important too, such as the naming of an executor to attend to material estate-related details following a planner's death. It bears noting for many individuals that, while a family member often takes on the role of a so-called personal representative, banks and other professional advisers or entities can additionally be named as executors and/or trustees.

And every person will likely want to designate one or more parties to act on their behalf via relevant powers of attorneys regarding important health care and financial matters in the event of incapacity.

An experienced estate administration lawyer will be sure to touch all necessary bases with a planning client, regardless of the specific concerns that feature most centrally in a given case.

Having a plan executed and supported by requisite and accurate legal documentation is an imperative. Moreover, a sound in-place strategy goes far toward promoting certainty and peace of mind for any planner.

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