Couples without children face unique estate planning issues

For most Nevada couples who have children, deciding what to do with their estate does not take much thought. The main goal is to provide for their children after their death. However, estate planning can be a challenge for couples who do not have children.

Just because a couple is childless hardly means that estate planning is not important. Without it, the state of Nevada will make these important decisions despite a decedent’s wishes. Even a basic estate plan that includes a will, powers of attorney (for both health care and finances) and medical directives allows each member of the couple to retain control over what happens to their estate and who will make critical decisions for each of them in the event of incapacitation.

Otherwise, family members may be required to obtain court permission to act. Setting up a guardianship and/or conservatorship takes time and money that could be better used caring for an ailing loved one. In addition, just because a guardian and/or conservator are appointed, that individual will not necessarily be able to make certain decisions without court approval.

Most Nevada couples set up their estate plans to pass everything to the other spouse upon death, and each spouse serves as the agent for the other with regard to powers of attorney. The challenge of estate planning for many couples without children is what happens once both spouses have passed away. Determining who will act on the surviving spouse’s behalf — and who will inherit that spouse’s estate — requires a great deal of thought and consideration. Fortunately, once these decisions are made, an estate plan can be tailored to carry out those wishes.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, “Estate planning for childless couples“, Carissa Giebel, March 30, 2015

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