Estate Planning When You Have No Heirs

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If you believe that you have no close relatives, you may wonder why and how to do estate planning. First, just about everybody has heirs, but you may have heirs that you do not even know. Second, you have other options for planning beyond giving assets to particular heirs.

  1. What Is the Difference between Heirs and Beneficiaries?

“Heirs” is a term used to refer to the persons who would inherit from you if you do not leave a will. If you are married and have children, your heirs are your children and spouse. When you are unmarried and do not have children, your property could pass to your parents, siblings, then descendants of siblings, or if there are no persons in that category, it would pass to your grandparents (or their descendants), then further out the family tree if needed.

A beneficiary is anyone you designate in your will or trust to receive your assets, as well as persons you name to receive assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance.

  1. Your Options for Estate Planning

If you do not want to leave your property to your distant relatives who you might not even know, you have many other options for estate planning. You may need an estate plan if you own a business, have substantial assets, or support someone else financially. Think about estate planning with the goal of charitable giving or helping your friends and pets.

  1. Charitable Giving

You can create a charitable trust that benefits one or more charities with proceeds from your estate. “Charities” can include religious organizations, political organizations, causes, societies, and more. Also, you can include a charity as a beneficiary in your trust. For example, some people name a charity to receive the remainder of their estates or of trust property after portions are distributed to friends or relatives.

  1. Helping Friends and Pets

Beneficiaries do not have to be relatives. Your beneficiaries can be close friends or even pets. If you do have living family who may learn that you are giving your estate to friends instead of relatives, make very sure that your wishes are clear in legally binding documents. Otherwise, jealous family members who do not inherit could try to challenge your will or trust in court.

Beloved pets can benefit from your estate plan too. California permits people to form pet trusts, which operate to promote the well-being of pets. You choose someone to take care of the pet and ensure its needs are met, and you can specify in the trust document how to best care for the pet.

Planning your estate? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call Angela’s office at (424) 400-2125.

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