More Americans are deciding not to have children. According to Pew Research Center, 44% of adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who don’t have children say it is not too likely or not likely at all that they will have children someday. This is an increase of 7% from 2018, when only 37% of non-parents said this. Although these individuals may not have to worry about things like naming a guardian for their children, they still have some important estate planning issues to tackle. Here are some issues to consider in estate planning for childless adults.

Incapacity Planning

Whether it’s a brain aneurism or a car crash, medical emergencies can come on suddenly. Without written instructions prepared in advance, the person’s wishes for medical care and treatment may not be known. This is why everyone over the age of 18 should have an advance directive.

An advance directive contains a living will and a medical power of attorney. The living will describes what you want to happen regarding medical care in certain situations, for example, if you are unconscious an unlikely to regain consciousness. A medical power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust

Providing for Pets

According to YouGovAmerica, 69% of Americans have a least one pet, and 88% of American pet owners say they consider their pets to be members of their family.

Although many people love their pets dearly, they don’t always think about what might happen if their pets outlive them. If prior arrangements have not been made, it’s possible that the pet could end up in a shelter.

If you have pets, you may want to make provisions for them in your estate plan. This could include naming someone as a caretaker for your pet and establishing a pet trust to cover the pet’s care.

Selecting Your Heirs

If a person dies without a will – intestate – state law determines what happens to the estate. Spouses and children are typically the primary heirs. In Oregon, the estate goes to the surviving spouse and/or descendants. In the absence of a surviving spouse or descendants, the estate goes to the parents, and if there are no surviving parents, to the siblings. After that, the estate can go to other relatives, per the specific rules outlined in Oregon law. If there are no surviving relatives who can be found, the estate can escheat to the state.

You may not want this to happen to your estate. Perhaps you have a specific relative or friend in mind, and you want them to receive your estate. By creating a will, you get to decide what happens to your estate, instead of leaving it up to state laws for intestate succession.

Giving to Charities

Charitable giving can be a great way to support a cause that’s important to you while leaving a legacy. For adults without children, charitable giving can be an especially logical and meaningful choice. This can be built into your estate plan.

The Importance of Estate Planning

Estate planning for parents of young children gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. For parents, it’s important to name a guardian and make sure that the children will be provided for no matter what. However, estate planning encompasses many other decisions that are relevant to all adults, including childless adults.

An estate planning attorney can help you put together an estate plan that meets your needs. To make an appointment, contact Skinner Law.


9600 SW Barnes Road, Suite 125
Portland, OR 97225
Phone: (503) 719-6603