Many people in Texas have a certain idea of what a family looks like. However, the reality is that families come in all shapes and sizes. For example, many couples, for a variety of different reasons, do not have children. Because there is a misconception that a will is only necessary to ensure that children are provided for in the event their parents are no longer able to provide such care, many childless couples may not fully understand the implications of a lack of an estate plan.
Regardless of whether there are children involved, a will can help determine how a person’s assets are divided. Those without children often want their friends, favorite charities or alma mater to benefit. Without a will in place, however, the state in which the couple lives will make a determination regarding the division of assets.
While typically the beneficiary is the person’s spouse, the court will have to make these decisions if both spouses die at the same time. If one person dies, his or her entire estate goes to the surviving spouse, but if the spouse dies shortly after, that could leave the former’s estate going to the latter’s family member regardless of personal wishes if they are not expressed in a will. Additionally, many couples who do not have children want to ensure that their pets are looked after.
While a will is an important part of an estate plan, it is not the only part. For example, many in Texas name someone to serve as their power of attorney — someone who can make financial decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to do so. Often, taking these important steps can both safeguard the person’s estate but can also help prevent the creation of additional stress for friends and family members who are already coping with a difficult situation. A professional with experience with estate planning can help create a plan that is tailored to meet the individual needs of their clients, regardless of their family composition.