I’m an Estate Planner: 8 Ways Single and Childfree People Can Manage Their Assets

stevecoleimages / Getty Images
stevecoleimages / Getty Images

When you’re single and have no children, estate planning looks a little different than for someone who’s married or has children. As a single, childfree individual, you can focus solely on your personal goals — including charitable giving — while ensuring your assets are handled according to your wishes.

Find Out: How Much Does the Average Middle-Class Person Have in Savings?

Trending Now: 4 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

Here are eight strategies from estate planning experts to help you manage your assets effectively.

Complete Estate Planning ASAP

Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP, founder of Childfree Wealth, said that one of the challenges for soloists is that they need to complete their estate planning early.

“If you don’t have a will in place, your assets will pass to your next of kin,” he said. “The problem is that if you are childfree, the state may not be able to find a next of kin, and then your assets can be taken as unclaimed by the state. When clients reach out to me, all of whom are childfree, my goal is to get an estate plan in place ASAP, no matter what age they are.”

Dana Blue, Esq. an experienced estate planning attorney at Dana Blue Law, said that part of your estate planning is to designate who you want to get your stuff.

“Consider friends, charities, and groups that mean something to you,” she suggested. “Making a good will is super important — it’s the base of your estate plan. Be clear about who gets what, and keep updating your will if things change with your relationships or situations.”

Read Next: I’m a Self-Made Millionaire: Here’s My Monthly Budget

Use the ‘Die With Zero’ Approach

Some single, childfree people don’t want to leave anything behind.

“Many soloists, meaning people who are single with no kids, embrace a Die With Zero approach to finance,” said Zigmont. “The goal is not to leave generational wealth, but to live and give throughout their life. For those who are charitably minded, giving while alive allows you both to see the impact and get tax breaks. Your will can still pass what is left over to your favorite charity, friend or family member, but the goal should be to pass on as little as possible.”

Find Someone To Act as Your Executor and Power of Attorney

“The biggest problem for many soloists is to find someone to act as their executor and power of attorney,” Zigmont said.

“If you don’t appoint someone to these roles, the state or healthcare organizations will make decisions for you, but they don’t know you. In California and Arizona you can appoint a professional fiduciary to fulfill these roles. In other states, there are very limited options unless you have enough assets for a trust company to serve in these functions.”

Consider Setting Up Trusts

Blue said you should consider setting up trusts for efficient asset management, such as a revocable living trust or a charitable remainder trust.

“They can help make sure your assets are handled as you want, even after you’re gone,” she explained. “It’s important to pick reliable executors and trustees who get what you want and can do what you ask.

Designate Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Proxies

“Don’t forget to plan for potential incapacity by designating powers of attorney and healthcare proxies,” Blue said. “These individuals will make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.”

Plan for Your Digital Legacy

Blue also recommended documenting your digital assets, which, she said is crucial in today’s digital age. “Make sure to account for your online accounts and specify who should have access to them,” she said.

Speak With Beneficiaries and Representatives Before Your Death

“Communicate your estate planning decisions to your chosen beneficiaries and representatives to avoid misunderstandings and ensure your wishes are honored,” Blue suggested.

Plan for the Future of Any Pets You May Have

“Make provisions for their care in your estate plan to ensure they are well looked after when you’re no longer able to do so,” said Blue.

The Takeaway

“Making sure your legacy lives on when you’re single and childfree means planning your estate in a way that shows what’s important to you,” Blue explained. “By doing these things, you make sure your stuff goes where you want it to and that what you cared about keeps going even after you’re gone.”

More From GOBankingRates

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I’m an Estate Planner: 8 Ways Single and Childfree People Can Manage Their Assets