Berman & Asbel, LLP

What Can I Do With My Assets If I Have No Children?

People spend their whole lives working and saving money so they have enough to retire and so their medical expenses can be met should the need later arise. In many cases, some of this money, as well as other assets, will remain after a person has passed away.

If you leave behind a spouse or children, it can be easy to simply name them as your beneficiaries. However, if you are no longer married and/or if you have no kids, then it can be more difficult to decide to whom you can leave your assets. Below are a few ideas for anyone in this perplexing position.

Charities

Leaving your property or money to a charity is a way to ensure your work and contributions serve others and support causes about which you truly care. And you don't have to wait to start your philanthropic efforts. As noted in this CNBC article, you could start a foundation or scholarship program now that allows you to enjoy the giving.

Other family members

While you may not have kids or a spouse, there may be other family members to whom you might leave your assets. Even if they are distant relatives, you might still share some common bonds that you value.

Remember, too, that in Pennsylvania, if you pass away without a will, the courts will go down a list of your relatives and give your assets to whomever comes up first. In other words, a distant relative may wind up receiving everything anyway.

Beloved pets or other companions

You can leave money and property to your pets. More accurately, you can reserve your assets for their benefit. Any money you leave behind could be slated for their care, comfort and other needs that may arise. However, understand that you will also need to assign a caretaker and make certain that the named party is willing and able to take over this responsibility.

Regardless of who you name as the beneficiary of your estate, it is important that you make such decisions carefully and with the guidance of an attorney. Because these distributions can be more complex and less traditional, ensuring that your plan is lawful and enforceable is the best way to protect your assets, your beneficiaries and your wishes.

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