There are different motivations for living child-free. Some couples focus on careers, travel or hobbies. Others see children as a burdensome financial obligation. Yet others are unable to have children. Regardless of reasons, planning for a childless couple may be somewhat different than for a couple with children (no need for guardians for minors), but just as important.

Planning with Advance Directives:

A Power of Attorney authorizes an agent to manage day to day financial affairs in the event of incapacity. A Health Care Proxy authorizes an agent to make health care decisions in the event of incapacity. A childless couple needs to decide who will make these decisions in the event one of them predeceases the other or becomes incapacitated. While there may be no obvious agents, a nephew, a niece, a cousin, a friend’s child may all be appropriate and should be discussed. Without these documents, seniors often become subject to elder abuse by very unscrupulous people.

Personal and Charitable Goals:

It will cost more than $300,000 to raise a child born in 2015. For a childless couple, this money will remain in their pocket. How is the couple going to spend it?

The couple may want to leave the money to friends, family or charity. Without a written plan, the law will decide how the money will get distributed, and it may not be the way the couple would have wanted. For a high net worth couple who is charitably inclined, a charitable remainder trust may be appropriate. This kind of trust allows for 3rd party management, permits the couple to live off the income, and passes the remainder money to a designated charity.

Protecting a non-spouse partner.

A lot of childless couples choose to cohabit but never officially marry. Many are not aware that there is no common law marriage in New York. As a result, a written plan (advanced directives, a Will, and potentially a Trust)  is an absolute necessity. If one individual dies without a Will or a Trust, the other is likely to be left without any legal or financial protection or rights. 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.