While some New York residents may believe that there is no reason to draft an estate plan if they do not have children, this could not be further from the truth. Individuals without children must take extra precautions regarding the disposition of their assets because they are not as protected by laws of intestacy as people with children are. New York's laws of intestacy favor a surviving spouse or children to inherit a decedent's belongings. However, unmarried or childless individuals may wind up having a long-lost relative inherit their belongings if they do not have a valid will or trust.
When there are no children to account for, estate planning is sometimes postponed until "later." However, all individuals benefit from having estate planning documents in place, including a will, health care directive and power of attorney. These types of legal documents ensure that a childless individual can appoint a person of his or her choosing to make important decisions regarding his or her health and finances. Additionally, the proper forms should be signed so that an individual can access another person's medical records in order to make informed decisions about his or her care.
Individuals who have children are more cognizant of the need for wills in order to name a guardian and ensure that they have the resources they need. However, having a properly-drafted will designates who should receive an individual's belongings at his or her death, which charitable contributions to make and who should be responsible for carrying out these instructions.
People who are interested in designating who should inherit their belongings or direct their final moments may choose to consult with an estate planning lawyer. Legal counsel may draft the appropriate documents that meet the needs and goals of the client.