If you do not have children or a spouse to include in an estate plan, there are still family, friends, and causes to consider.

Even if you do not have any children or a spouse, there are many options available for creating an estate plan that benefits others, according to nj.com in “Single without kids? Who should be your heir?” This is not an unusual situation and an estate planning attorney will be able to help you examine your options. You have many choices, although it may not seem that way at first glance.

Yes, start with considering family members, or friends who are needful or to whom you are grateful. If you leave money to siblings who are dependent upon programs like Medicaid, you might put their financial situation at risk unless you leave the funds in a Supplemental Needs Trust for them.

If you decide to leave assets to your siblings and have a will or trust properly prepared by an estate planning attorney, and death beneficiary designations on assets like life insurance and IRAs coordinate with your plan, then the assets will be distributed according to your wishes, regardless of how the siblings feel about it.

Don’t forget causes that are near and dear to your heart. Consider making a charitable donation to an organization you have been involved with during your lifetime or one that shares your values and goals. You can also give with “warm hands,” which is making charitable donations while you are alive, to nonprofit organizations. That way you can enjoy seeing the impact of your gift, while you are alive.

Make sure to consider the tax ramifications of any estate plan. While the federal estate tax does not apply to estates valued at less than $11.18M, there may be an estate or inheritance tax in your state that will have a significant impact on the inheritance. For example, the Massachusetts estate tax kicks in a just $1M.

Sit down with an estate planning attorney and talk about what it is you’d like your estate to achieve after you’ve passed.

Resource:nj.com (July 20, 2018) “Single without kids? Who should be your heir?”