As you near the age of retirement, you may have friends and family members who are making their own future plans. Perhaps they are downsizing their homes, moving closer to their grandchildren or writing their wills. You likely have your own expectations about retirement and beyond, but because you are single with no children, you may not have given much thought to your estate plan.  

Unlike those who are married with kids, you do not have to provide for your heirs. However, you may be missing some important benefits an estate plan can offer you. Your plan can provide certain protections as well as allowing you the freedom to designate who will inherit your assets. 

Who gets your things? 

If you should die without a will, the state of Georgia will decide who gets your belongings and who will handle the administrative duties of probate for your estate. Following the law of succession, the court will distribute your hard-earned assets to your closest relatives in a particular order. A judge may also choose someone as administrator who does not understand you and may not know or honor your wishes. 

For this reason, it may be even more important for you to have a plan in place than for someone who is married or has children. Unless you have a will, your best friend, your long-term partner, your alma mater, your favorite charity and others will have no legal claim to your estate 

What about your needs? 

Difficult as it is to think about, there may come a time when incapacitation renders you unable to make essential decisions about your finances, legal issues or your own health care. Your estate plan can include powers of attorney and designating trusted friends or family members to speak and act on your behalf in such a situation. Without these documents in place, your loved ones may end up in court fighting for the right to manage your affairs or make critical medical decisions for you. 

Finally, if you have a beloved pet, you can use your estate plan to ensure your companion has proper care when you are gone. Pet trusts are becoming more common, allowing pet owners to designate a caretaker and provide money for their pets’ needs. You can even leave instructions for medical care, grooming and your pet’s end-of-life matters.  

As you can see, estate plans are not just for those who are married with kids. There are many ways in which having such a plan in place can benefit singles with no children.