A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses planning issues for childless couples.
In certain respects, it may be easier to make Estate and incapacity plans if you don’t have children. The main problem, in my view, is finding the people to represent you and manage your financial affairs (and your health care) if you lose capacity or if you die.
Another critical issue is the implications of which person dies first. If no Will is made, relatives of the first person to die will probably inherit nothing. Relatives of the surviving spouse will stand to inherit instead.
Spouses (either married or common law) can always represent the other spouse, but alternate representatives need to be found.
Sometimes that is also easy. But the best steps you can take start with making Wills, so that you can benefit the people you want.
If there is any concern with the surviving spouse entering a new relationship, a Mutual Wills Agreement can be made to eliminate any risk of the surviving spouse changing their Will after entering the new relationship.
Without children, incapacity can also be a financially risky situation. Poor representation can lead to financial abuse.
Plans should be made, not only because the couple needs to find a trustworthy person to manage their finances, but also because it’s possible that a person can regain their capacity and then will need the resources to live.
This ad ran in the Richmond Review on November 14, 2014.