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Wills and no kids
Old 05-06-2014, 03:38 PM   #1
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Wills and no kids

So I have a goal of setting up our wills and living wills in 2014. Since we're not having kids, and all of our nieces and nephews are minors (6 under the age of 7), how do the other people on here without offspring divvy their money? I'm guessing you'd have to set up something a little more advance if you're involving minors.

I have 2 younger sisters and H has 1 younger sister (all of which have produced 2 kids each).

If one of us died before the other, those retirement accounts now get moved into the survivors name (they don't stay in the deceased's name)? So when the survivor passes, the $ could be divvied among the 3 sisters evenly. However, if one of us goes on to live without the other for 20 years, I seriously doubt we'll even be in touch with the deceased's family.

Or if we both pass together in an accident, then we'd need to know how to divvy it based on which account is whose as they will be in our individual names at that time? Like accounts with my name I'd have to declare how it's divvied, and likewise with accounts in his name?

H and I are 35 & 37. Our sisters are 36, 35, and 31. So we're not THAT much older. We're not even that close. Maybe see them each once a year.

We only suggested sisters and nieces/nephews as some options, but there could be others. Parents? I have my mom, and he has both parents. Charity? Our dog? She is 10.5 though.

We are actually very stuck on this! Just wondering how others have done it (without offspring).
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:21 PM   #2
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Your 401k/403b/IRA accounts, life insurance or pension surviving benefits have beneficiaries and that his how those assets would be distributed. Only your other assets would be decided by the will. So your house, cars, savings/checking, or similar are determined by the will. Most couples the surviving spouse gets the amount with an upgraded basis (for tax reasons). Then of course the surviving spouse can also change any wills.

It is wise to have any minor's inheritance controlled by a trust until they are a certain age, which does not have to be just 18. It can be any age you want past 18, but you also have to name trustee to control it. You can name the parents instead. You do not have to limit it to family; could be a close friend for example as well.

Since there are a lot of variables, it is a good idea and i suggest to set up time and spend a bit of money to talk to an estate attorney. Get advice based on your state and you can make the best choices.

People leave money (end result of this selling off any assets like house, cars, etc) to many things like charity, schools, non-profit groups, churches, or some large amounts can set up a scholarship; there are a lot of options. You may even end up with the richest dog in town, but again like minors it would have a trust.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:34 PM   #3
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Dying together in an accident, I can see it divvied 3 ways (among sisters). The other's sister(s) will have been part of their lives up until the accident.

I guess you answered my other thought - if I die, and H gets all my accounts/assets, but then he dies 40 years later without being in contact with my sisters (no reason to talk to them anymore). Then divvying 3 ways when he dies doesn't make sense any longer when these people haven't been part of his life for 40 years.

But you mentioned the surviving spouse would rewrite the will now how ever they wanted.

This is so hard to decide! I am not even ready to make an appt with a lawyer as I'd be wasting my money as I have no vision in my head. H and I talk but we get no where.
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Wills and no kids
Old 05-06-2014, 05:26 PM   #4
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Wills and no kids

We've talked about it but have nothing in place.

Also no kids. We both have said nothing to our siblings for various reasons, but we have considered some to the nephews and our parents.

If we ever get around to a formal written will. Our parents might no longer be living, and if the nephews are adults, it all might all go to a local charity.

Currently we're taking a risk we don't both die at the same time and the State gets to decide.

We did buy a Nolo book, which has good info to help you think of things before you pay a lawyer to ask you.
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Old 05-06-2014, 05:29 PM   #5
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The basic answer is you can divide things up however you see fit. A common approach is to leave certain amounts or per cents to people and the remainder to charity.

It's a difficult thing since everyone reacts to inheritances in different ways. If you leave more to person A than person B, will person B feel offended? Long term family rifts have developed over such things.

If you have some money to share presently something you may consider is funding 529 College Plans for your nieces and nephews.
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Old 05-06-2014, 05:32 PM   #6
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You can do beneficiary's or TOD(transfer on death), your assets will be transferred when a death certificate is issued to the institutions that hold the assets. Be careful, if state inheritance taxes are involved, your heirs will have to pay that tax before they can access the proceeds (or have other plans). Even then, depending on the state, it may be multiple months before the state releases the assets.

From my limited knowledge it's possible to handle the issue if your sisters pre decease you or their children. My major point is to get a qualified attorney/expert involved. Do some reading so you know the questions to ask. My experience is the experts are willing to help you understand the issues involved, I'd probably get a couple of opinions.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:31 PM   #7
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I went to an estate lawyer to draft a will back in 2008, just after my dad and I met with him to update my dad's will (and create a trust to put his house into). In both cases we included health care proxies. I designated my ladyfriend as primary and my brother as secondary. As for beneficiaries, I included my ladyfriend, my brother, his son (my nephew who was 4 at the time and is now 10, but he can't collect until he is older, my brother would be a trustee), my dad, and some other friends as well as my alma mater.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:33 AM   #8
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We created a testamentary trust. If we both die, our $$$ goes into a trust that will pay for college education for our siblings' descendants.

Nieces, nephews, and their kids.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:25 AM   #9
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We created a testamentary trust. If we both die, our $$$ goes into a trust that will pay for college education for our siblings' descendants.

Nieces, nephews, and their kids.
Nice, I'll have to look into that.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:39 AM   #10
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We haven't had ours done yet, but our plan is to do the following:
1 - leave everything to spouse
2 - if spouse dead, leave everything equally to our siblings (we each have 1)
3 - if sibling dead, leave their half to their children equally

Of course, if "life happens" and one of us dies untimely young and the other spends 40 years alone or remarried, then that person would have the capability to re-do the will.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:55 AM   #11
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I would fund a retirement or college account for each loved one and then leave the rest to a cause I cared about.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:15 AM   #12
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I need to do this. I've put it off too long. I'm single, have only a couple nephews and nieces, and am stymied about what charity/church/or? to leave the rest to. Too many choices.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:36 AM   #13
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We have all of it going to surviving spouse. When final spouse dies, any remainder is split 50% to charity, and equal %ages to the remaining heirs or their offspring.

We used to have a trust to be set up but simplified it dramatically 4 years ago.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:51 AM   #14
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I need to do this. I've put it off too long. I'm single, have only a couple nephews and nieces, and am stymied about what charity/church/or? to leave the rest to. Too many choices.
I'm in a similar situation. I do have nephews and nieces (7 of them), but am not sure whether to leave it to them, to an SO, or to a charity. My main problem is that I have no idea who to use as an executor. I'm 50 and probably have plenty of time to think about this, but there's always the slight chance that I don't..................
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:55 AM   #15
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When we hired an estate attorney - she gave us lots of advise and suggestions on how to achieve our goals. In our case - we wanted to make sure the kids did not get a huge lump sum at a very young age... so she had ideas of how to structure it so that they got some at age 25, some at age 30, and some at age 35. We would not have known how to structure this - but the way she did it made sense.

My sister and BIL have no kids and have my sons as nephews, and his sister's daughters as nieces. They set they're trust up to give half their estate to charity, and the other half to be divided equally among the nephews and nieces. In their situation, my husband and I (and our kids) are close to BIL - so he wouldn't get rid of us (ha!) upon my sisters death. My sister is almost closer to BIL's twin sister than BIL is - so again - that relationship would survive the death of BIL.

If you want the wishes to survive the first spouses death - you can set up a bypass trust. Or if you want the surviving spouse to be able to modify things - you can make it revocable.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:15 PM   #16
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I'm in a similar situation. I do have nephews and nieces (7 of them), but am not sure whether to leave it to them, to an SO, or to a charity. My main problem is that I have no idea who to use as an executor. I'm 50 and probably have plenty of time to think about this, but there's always the slight chance that I don't..................
Yeah I don't know who to pick ast the executor either. I have two sisters and a mom, none of them even came to my wedding (either time, married 2x a decade apart!), so that kinds of tells you how close we are. Yet I still fly to visit them 2x a year.

I'm thinking of it two ways here - if we both died together (we'd need a plan for that), and if one of dies after the other who has been gone for a while. Seems like two very different ways of thinking about this. I'd probably only consider ALL the nieces and nephews in the first scenario, but not the latter.

I don't have excess funds to pay for other children's colleges while I'm alive even if I love them to pieces. It's all tied up in retirement for starters. I also don't feel like it's my responsibility. Maybe if I were really loaded though!
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:35 PM   #17
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It took me a while to get off my rear end and write a will, but I finally did it this year. I asked a close friend if he'd be willing to be the executor and he agreed to it. I asked a relative to be the secondary executor and he agreed to it.

I've never been sure about where I wanted my assets to go. I discussed this with a friend a few years ago, and he told me that he wasn't sure either, but his best guess was preferable to where his assets would end up without a will. Those words stuck with me. So I've got a will now, but I suspect I will probably modify the bequests after a few years.

When I went to the lawyer's office to sign the papers, he told me that he had prepared a will for someone several years ago but that she never signed it. He reminded her numerous times but she never returned to sign it. He told me that she recently died without a will and had extensive assets and no immediate family. Her assets were all going to end up with a distant relative who is currently 11 years old.
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Old 05-07-2014, 02:17 PM   #18
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On the subject of an executor, you can always specify a bank as this is one of the things a trust department is good at (it will not be cheap but). In fact a well drawn will will include after named executors a clause that if the named executors do not choose to serve, that a bank will be used. Banks have the advantage that there is always some trust department in town that will take the business for the fee.
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Old 05-07-2014, 02:52 PM   #19
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More general rules how it works: a will has to go through probate, a trust is to avoid probate. Some states probate is more painful than others, but probate has basic costs and a court appointed overseer will be in charge of the assets per the will's requirements. A trust avoids probate, that is the main reason, it allows the assets to be available sooner. The trustee can be anyone you want, in OP case it sounds like a close friend may be a good option. It does not have to be a family member. It can be a bank or legal office employee.

A will is also only for distribution of assets, you should also have medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney documents made up at the same time. This allows someone to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable. For OP, you would likely have your spouse for each other's POA. Then name a successor just in case both of you are unable.

Overall this process is not so scary, you are taking the first correct steps to learn. Then talk with an estate attorney professional. It does not mean you have to immediately do a will, but they can provide guidance and understanding of your state's rules.

Being a trustee is not hard, but does take some time. More for having all the legal documents in place and being able to prove you can do what is your responsibility.
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Old 05-16-2014, 01:08 PM   #20
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DW and I have no kids either and are starting to think about this too.

My opinion is that money is a store of utility and nothing else. This is only so damn complicated because we humans make it into something more. Now, if you don't leave someone money you didn't love them? Pathetic.

What utility would you want for the world once you have no more use for the money? Would you rather see a charity flourish, little nephew Billy get a free ride to state college, watch Greenpeace attack a whaling ship? Answer that question and set up a plan to put your money to the task. Different strokes and all that.
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