It’s entirely possible for someone to have an estate and no one to inherit it when they die. It could be due to not having children of one’s own and no other family. It could also be due to outliving all of one’s relatives, or not having relatives who live in the United States. Whatever the case may be, just because someone doesn’t have any heirs doesn’t mean that they should forego estate planning. As a Newport Beach will and estate lawyer, I assure you there are plenty of reasons for someone who doesn’t have heirs – or doesn’t think they have any heirs – to make plans for their estate.

Just because you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you don’t have any heirs.

Heirs aren’t just children. In fact, technically, no one has any heirs while they’re living. By definition, heirs are the people who stand to inherit an estate, and no one named in a will can inherit until the testator of that will is dead. Heirs do have a hierarchy, with children and spouses of the deceased most likely to inherit, then living parents, then siblings, then nieces and nephews, and thusly through the bloodline. Unless there is no way to trace some blood or adoptive relative, everyone has potential heirs. A third cousin once removed can be a potential heir, and if that distant cousin you didn’t know existed is your closest living relative, that distant cousin may inherit your estate.

What about your friends?

You can name anyone as a beneficiary in a will, regardless of whether the person is a blood relative. Do you have a good friend, a faithful nurse, or a neighbor you want to help? You can make these non-relatives your beneficiaries, or any other living person you desire.

Do you really want California to inherit your assets?

 Assets from your estate could go to the state of California if there is no heir, or if an informed rightful heir doesn’t claim or accept the estate. The state decides how best to allocate the estate, and that means that the estate will usually go into state programs. If you’re fine with letting the state decide what to do with your assets, then perhaps you don’t need an estate plan.

The silver lining of having no heirs is being free to create whatever legacy you want, and choosing exactly how you want others to remember you.

This is your last say in how things go on Earth. You can make it impactful. 

Your legacy may be the last thing you can do to affect change. A Newport Beach will and estate lawyer can help you create an estate plan that allows you to give to whatever cause, organization, or group you like. Your imagination is the limit. You could create a scholarship fund. You could donate to your church. You could create a trust to benefit your favorite marine animal rescue group. We can help you figure out the best estate plan for your assets so that you can fund and support whatever is important to you. If you would like our assistance in designing a plan that you feel good about, simply contact our office at (949) 260-1400 to schedule a consultation with a Newport Beach will and estate lawyer.