Childless individuals and couples have unique planning concerns and circumstances that do not necessarily fit in with the typical estate plan. Without children, there is less of a need to preserve assets for future generations. Childless couples have increased capacity to fully save for retirement since they do not face the expenses of raising children. However, the lack of children also presents some unique concerns that need addressing.
In the absence of a trusted child, childless couples and individuals need to select trustees and/or agents who can look out for their interests in case of incapacity. Specifically, people should discuss with their elder care planners specifically when, and in what capacity, a trustee or agent should step in and act on behalf of an incapacitated individual.
Relatedly, individuals should discuss and create a list of personal preferences and expectations to assist future caregivers. What products does an individual like to use? What kind of hobbies or types of entertainment does a person enjoy. What foods or drinks does a person like? Essentially the kind of things that a spouse or child would know about a person’s individual preferences that makes a person’s day-to-day existence more enjoyable should be spelled out. Such a document could then be incorporated into more standard planning documents to ensure that a person’s golden years are as enjoyable as possible.
Another factor to consider is place of residence during a period of incapacity or mere limited mobility. While a home setting may seem appealing now, for individuals with limited mobility and no children or grandchildren who can regularly visit, the home can be a very isolating environment. The community experience of a nursing home or other elderly-specific complex may provide a more fulfilling experience that keeps individuals more alert and engaged for a longer period of time.
Ideally, childless individuals and couples should discuss these factors with an elder law attorney well before the time comes to put these plans into action.