Sommer Miller, Esq.
Leaving Your Estate to Non-Family Members: Everything You Need to Know
Estate planning often revolves around leaving assets to family members, but what if you want to leave your estate to someone who isn't related to you? Many people have close friends, caretakers, or even charitable organizations that hold a special place in their hearts. In this blog post, our Pennsylvania will and trust attorneys will explore the essential considerations and steps to take when leaving your estate to non-family members to ensure that your wishes are respected and your legacy is preserved.
Create a Will or Trust
The first step in leaving your estate to non-family members is creating a will and/or trust. These documents allow you to designate who will receive which assets upon death. Without such, the state laws of intestacy dictate how your property will be distributed. If you're leaving all or most of your assets to people other than family members, it's important that you create legally binding documents that outline these wishes.
Choosing Your Beneficiaries Wisely
Once you've created a will and/or trust, it's important that you choose the right beneficiaries for any property left outside of your estate (such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies). State laws may vary on who can be designated as beneficiaries for such accounts; however, most states allow for non-family members (including charities) to be named as beneficiaries. It's important that the beneficiary designations are properly filled out in order for them to be valid.
Gifting Property Before Death
If you'd like certain individuals or organizations to benefit from your estate before your death, consider gifting them property while still alive. Gifting has many benefits and can help reduce taxes owed on future inheritance transfers. However, it's important that the gift is properly documented with the recipient signing an acceptance form or deed of gift in order for it not to be contested upon death.
Getting Help to Create a Plan that Accomplishes Your Goals
Leaving your estate to non-family members can seem complicated at first glance; however, with proper planning, this process doesn't have to be difficult or intimidating. From creating a legally binding will or trust and choosing thoughtful beneficiaries outside of family circles, there are several ways you can ensure that the people and causes most important in your life are taken care of after death—allowing your legacy to live on long after you're gone. Contact our Pennsylvania will and trust attorneys by clicking the link below and we’ll help you get started!