Naming Alternate Beneficiaries for Children Without Descendants

By | 2020-01-14T16:52:01-06:00 January 14th, 2020|0 Comments

As Louisiana residents enter their twilight years, it’s no surprise that many begin to think about planning for their legacy. When determining how their estate should be divided upon their demise, the decision is fairly straight forward for most. Divide the estate equally among the children. But what most people do not consider is who to name as alternative heirs or legatees. This happens because many don’t want to imagine the unthinkable. What happens if one of my children predeceases me?

The answer is again, easy for most. Naming the descendants or future descendants of your children as “back-up” heirs seems the most logical. As the average American family changes with Millennials coming into adulthood, estate planners face a common new challenge. The clients children have no children of their own. And for many, the children choosing to stay this way.

In 1968, the average marrying age for women and men was 21 and 23, respectively. Today, it’s 27 and 29. With a delay in marriage also comes the obvious, a delay in having children. In the 1970s, the median age of women bearing first born children was 21. As of 2016, that age has risen to 28. In today’s world,  seeing children reach their 30s and even 40s before having children is the new normal. Seeing children forgo parenthood altogether is also commonplace.

How do you select alternate beneficiaries for your children who do not have children of their own? This is an issue we see again and again.

Here are some alternatives that we see many of our Louisiana clients considering:

  1. Many Louisiana couples with more than one child choose to have their other children serve as alternates.
  2. Siblings, nieces and nephews, or even close friends of the family are also viable choices. Especially, if you have no other children or aren’t comfortable leaving a larger portion to any surviving children.
  3. Finally, schools, charities, churches, or political organizations commonly appear as alternative beneficiaries.  This is often the case for those with clear charitable intent, those concerned about choosing a back-up heir close in age to themselves, or those who dislike the idea of a distant relative ending up with a portion of your estate.

If you are concerned about naming alternative heirs and childless children, and have not yet thought about estate planning; you may want to start now. The estate planning process can be quick and efficient with the right attorney. Proper planning will also pay major dividends for your family later.  If you  are interested in learning more about your Estate Planning options under Louisiana Law, call Legacy Law Center at (504) 274-1980 in Metairie, New Orleans, and surrounding areas or call (985) 246-3020 in Mandeville, Covington, Slidell, Houma, and Thibodaux.