Single without kids? Who should be your heir?

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. I am a single senior citizen with no children. I am in a quandary as to whom I want to will to. I know I want to give to family. I was advised to use a younger person because all my siblings are older than me. I thought about using one older relative and a younger one, but I’m worried they won’t come to an agreement.
— Mary

A. Without knowing more about your relationship with your family members, it’s hard to say.

Really, it’s completely up to you.

It’s often a challenge for single people without children to decide the disposition of their assets upon their death, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

If you choose an older sibling, there are a few things to consider.

“Assets left to older siblings may have to be used for that sibling’s long-term care, which otherwise may have been paid for by Medicaid,” Whitenack said. “Moreover, the older sibling may die shortly after inheriting the assets, resulting in those assets going to the beneficiaries of the older sibling.”

People have the right, however, to leave their assets to whoever they want so long as they are mentally competent and free from undue influence, she said.

As for your relatives not getting along, that doesn’t matter a bit.

“Beneficiaries do not have to be in agreement,” Whitenack said. “The terms of the will dictate what the beneficiaries inherit and the executor must follow the terms of the will.”

Also be aware of how the inheritance tax works, though that should not be the only driver for your decision.

Email your questions to moc.p1540305578leHye1540305578noMJN1540305578@ksA1540305578.