Nearly 56 percent of people in Ohio and the rest of the country admit to not having a will. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, most Americans have not made plans to specify how their estate should be disbursed when they die.
For decedents who had children, state statutes will typically assign assets of the decedent to a spouse or children if no will had been created. However, there are complications for single individuals with no children, unmarried couples who live in the same household and married couples with no children. The unintended consequences of not having an estate plan, such as having one’s assets given to a relative from whom one is estranged, highlight how important it is for single individuals and married couples who have no children to make plans regarding the distribution of their property and how they are to be cared for if they should become incapacitated.
A will and powers of attorney should be a part of every estate plan. The powers of attorney should be for health care and financial decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated and unable to make them. The person designated to have power of attorney does not have to be a relative but should have unimpeachable character.
Individuals should also carefully consider to whom they would like to bequeath their assets. For those who are childless, it is not unusual to name their nieces or nephews in the will, although it may be wise to first discuss any intended gifts with family members.
In some cases trusts might be appropriate. This could be when a person is concerned that an heir would squander a lump sum inheritance under a will. Estate planning attorneys can instead structure trusts to provide for distributions only upon the achievement of specified milestones.