VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Estate planning for couples without children

Retirees living in Florida who are well-off and have no children may wonder who they should appoint as executor for their estate. This may particularly be the case if one spouse is reluctant to deal with the financial issues that would accompany the death of the other spouse.

In addition to the usual estate planning, such as ensuring that each will receive the other's assets on their death and designating secondary beneficiaries, it is necessary for each spouse to be prepared with an understanding of the couple's finances. If one is more financially savvy than the other, he or she can help in demystifying the process by walking the other through all of the paperwork. While ideally one spouse can act as executor to the other's estate, an attorney or another professional can also be appointed as executor although there is often a cost.

A family member who acts as executor is not expected to be a legal or financial expert and can consult professionals as needed for estate administration purposes. A spouse can also have an executor removed if that executor is not fulfilling their fiduciary duty. In many ways, a childless couple may be at some advantage in estate planning because they know that there will not be family conflict from adult children fighting over their estate.

Working closely with an attorney during estate planning may be one way to address these types of concerns. An attorney may also be able to assist with issues that may be of particular concern to people without children or other close family members such as creating documentation that deals with their medical care if they become incapacitated.

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