If you do not have any children, you might not think that you need to bother with having an estate plan. However, having an estate plan is often even more important for people without children than for people with children.
A common myth exists that the purpose of estate planning is to provide a way for a person's children to receive their inheritances. From this it follows that people who do not have children do not need to have an estate plan. Nothing could be further from the truth. Providing an inheritance for children is only one purpose of an estate plan, not the sole purpose or even the most important purpose.
As U.S. News & World Report points out in, "No Kids? You Still Need an Estate Plan," people without children need, at the very least, to have a will if they want to have a say in who gets their assets after they pass away.
People who pass away without a will are said to have died intestate. Every state has a law that determines who gets the assets of people who die intestate. The laws all operate similarly, in that the assets are given to the person's closest living relatives.
Under such law, those who have a spouse or children will have their assets given to that spouse or the children. If however you have no spouse or children, then your assets will be distributed to other relatives, depending on who is closest in line. Ultimately, if you have no living relatives that can be found, then the assets will be claimed by the government. The term for this is escheat.
So, the primary purpose of estate planning for most people is avoiding the laws of intestacy and deciding for yourself who will inherit from you.
Do not let the fact that you do not have children deter you from getting an estate plan. Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help you design a custom plan for your unique circumstances.
Reference: U.S. News & World Report (October 14, 2015) "No Kids? You Still Need an Estate Plan"