Financial planning for child-free retirees

Childless singles and couples may mistakenly assume that the absence of heirs magically removes the weight of retirement and estate planning from their shoulders.

But experts and statistics suggest that childless adults may benefit as much or more from a well-reasoned retirement and estate plan as those with a proud passel of kids and grandkids.

Footloose singles in particular face a greater need to manage their retirement, for one simple reason.

“It’s more expensive to live single,” says Kristi Sullivan, a fee-only financial planner based in Denver. “Where couples may both be saving for retirement, single people only have one income to save, and their expenses are proportionately higher than for married people.”

Regardless of marital status, childless pre-retirees who don’t plan for the back nine not only risk facing steep health and long-term care costs alone as they age, their lack of an estate plan could leave a bureaucratic mess for their friends and advisers to clean up.

“You just don’t have that built-in next generation of people to help with the caregiving you will eventually need,” says Sullivan. “And if you don’t put a will or trust in place, administering your estate is going to be a huge pain in the neck for whomever gets handed that job.”

Here’s how childless retirees can plan for longevity, smooth their inevitable departure and still leave a caring legacy, all in five easy steps.