Whether you've wished for children or are child-free by choice, you may find yourself putting off certain estate planning tasks--even the most basic ones like drafting a will--because you're not quite sure the best way to distribute your estate after both you and your spouse have passed on. However, adult children certainly aren't the only intended heirs of estates, and there are a number of unique ways you can use your assets to benefit others and carry on your name and legacy long after you're gone. Read on to learn more about some common estate distribution methods for adults without children:
Leaving Your Assets To Charity
One of the most common ways to dedicate one's assets to future generations is to bestow them upon a charity (or charities) close to your heart. Whether you and your spouse have always been passionate about animal welfare or would like to ensure that low-income children in your city have access to parks, swimming pools, and other public recreational facilities, your money may be put to good use by willing it to charity.
You may want to consider including some contingent beneficiaries in your will; if you execute your will at a relatively young age and don't amend it as you grow older, you may find that the charity you selected to receive the bulk of your estate funds has gone out of business or merged, making transfer of these assets more difficult.
Creating Scholarship Funds
Another way to ensure your legacy lives on is to use your estate funds to establish local, state, or even national scholarships. These scholarships need not target academics specifically; by donating to a non-profit organization in your city, you may be able to establish scholarships for local youth to attend skills camps, sports retreats, or other potentially life-changing events.
Bestowing Upon Nieces and Nephews
In many cases, you may have blood relatives who aren't your children and wish to leave them a piece of your estate as well. If so, it may be worth checking out the intestate succession laws in your state; many states will automatically distribute a decedent's assets to adult siblings and their children if there are no surviving spouses, parents, or children of the decedent. Depending on the size of your estate and the complexity of its administration, having a will may still be a good idea, but knowing your assets will stay within your family even if you die without a will can be comforting.
Contact a law office like Robert J. Ameen, Attorney at Law for more information and assistance.