When you don’t have children, the question of who to give your possessions to when you pass away is often more complicated. Do you give your assets to another family member? To a charity? To your alma mater?
This question is all the more pressing when you have lots to give. A large gift can make a significant impact, which means that you will want it to go to the right place. If you don’t have children, estate planning is all the more important. Without a will in place, your assets will go to the state.
According to a recent report in Reuters, this situation isn’t actually very uncommon. Seventeen million unmarried Americans over 65 are having to face organizing their affairs. And in addition to the 17 million older Americans, many young people are facing estate planning decisions while unmarried and childless.
Reuters reports that many young, wealthy people are looking into charitable giving while they are still alive—following in the footsteps of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose Giving Pledge calls wealthy individuals to donate the majority of their wealth.
If you want to give before your death, you can make gifts, set up a private foundation, contribute to a donor-advised fund, and more: there are numerous options. Donations can be one time or ongoing.
It helps to explore your options with a financial advisor and estate planning attorney, who can work with you to determine how much you want to give away now and leave to heirs after your death.
In addition to thinking about charitable giving and estate planning, you should consider who will manage your affairs if you are ever unable to do this yourself (because of injury or illness, for example). Talk to a lawyer to set up a financial and health care power of attorney. These documents designate one or more trusted people to handle your health care and finances in the event of tragedy.
Young or old, married or not, if you are childless and wealthy, it’s important to think about the type of legacy you want to leave.