Estate Planning for Wealthy Clients with No Close Family

Estate planning can be difficult in modest circumstances, and it can become extremely difficult for clients with large estates.  However, the difficulty that exists in normal circumstances increases exponentially in a situation where a wealthy person has no children, no spouse, and no close family members.  In those situations, a variety of issues arise.

For instance, while most people with children or other close relatives leave their assets at death to their close family, a person with no close family is faced with determining how he or she wants to leave their assets at death.  Will the assets be divided between a list of close friends?  Will the assets be left to charity?  Will the assets be left to distant family members for the mere goal of keeping the money in the family?  Whatever the conclusion, the decision can be very difficult.

Additionally, when someone does not have close family members, he or she often struggles with selecting people to assist them with medical and financial decisions if he or she develops dementia or alzheimers.  They also struggle with selecting someone to serve as the executor of their Will when they pass away.  Likewise, if they have decided to create a trust to benefit minors and/or charities, he or she may struggle to select someone to serve as trustee. 

Finally, as the wealthy person without close family ages, he or she may struggle with acknowledging when they need to involve others to help them.  If they fail to involve someone soon enough, they could end up as unwilling participants in a court-ordered guardianship.  That guardianship proceeding would likely not result in the wealthy person’s desires being fulfilled the way they would have chosen them to be fulfilled.

If you are struggling with the best way to structure your estate because you do not have close family, the attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP can assist you in finding the best plan that meets your specific needs.  Please contact us to discuss your goals.