As society changes, more people are living alone. Some are marrying later in life, if at all, and having fewer children. Many will reach the end of life with few if any close living relatives nearby. While people who are living alone are in many cases "making their own families" out of their other social connections, this trend has social and financial consequences, one of which is figuring out estate plan.
It may be tempting to believe that if you have no children or other living heirs, that you don't need to have an estate plan, but this isn't necessarily the case. It's still important, if more challenging, to figure out what you will do with any property you owe, or retirement accounts or other assets that you have.
Consider a charitable trust
If you have assets and no obvious relative to whom to bequeath them, think about establishing a trust to support something you feel strongly about. Have you been involved with music, education or sports? Are you an animal-lover? You don't have to have a blood relative in order to direct your assets in a way that feels right to you.
The bank can be your executor
If you're finding it challenging to decide who should handle your estate after you're gone, it's worth knowing that your bank can do this for you for a fee. If handing the considerable responsibility of being an executor over to a friend seems like too much to ask, having the bank step in to take on this role may be a good option for you.
Create a living will
If you have to choose someone other than a blood relative to make health care decisions on your behalf, it can make their job easier if you have a living will that outlines your wishes in case you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
Doing something is better than doing nothing
While creating an estate plan may be more challenging if you live alone with few or no relatives nearby, there are still decisions you can make that can help settle your affairs and distribute your assets in a way you see fit. To explore your options, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more.