Justin Raber Attorney at Law

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Estate planning with no children

West Virginia residents and others throughout the country often make decisions regarding their retirement years. Estate planning may address how assets will be distributed or how health care will be handled should someone become incapacitated. In most instances, an estate and any decision-making authority will be granted to one's children. However, these choices are different for those people with no children or other heirs.

Financial advisors are encountering clients with no children with greater frequency now. Many of these clients are uncertain who will be named as executors of their estates or who will make health care decisions for them. Experts often suggest that their clients focus on charitable giving to organizations that reflect their interests.

For example, one advisor's client was a retired school teacher with no children or close family members. The teacher had previously taught at-risk middle school students. She established a foundation that would provide college scholarships for alumni from the school. The teacher is able to participate in the selection process now and can see how her legacy will positively affect students.

Determining who will have medical decision making can be even more complicated. A person may not want to burden someone to make such critical decisions. On the other hand, it could be difficult to find someone to trust in making life-or-death health decisions. In these cases, experts recommend developing a living will. This document will specifically state someone's wishes regarding life support or other health care issues.

While few may enjoy thinking about the time when they will no longer be around, it is important to address these issues in estate planning. An experienced West Virginia attorney can assist clients as they develop a comprehensive plan. A knowledgeable lawyer will evaluate each situation and recommend a plan that will ensure that someone's estate is handled as specified.

Source: CNBC, "Planning your estate when you've got no children or heirs", Sarah O'Brien, May 31, 2017

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