Empty Nesters: Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan | Trust & Will (2023)

Are you in the process of sending your kids off to college, or helping your youngest find their first apartment away from home? Empty nesters typically feel a mixed bag of emotions, one of them being a sense of uncertainty of what comes next.

As you enter this new stage in life, we urge you to review and reevaluate your estate plan. This might be the last thing that would have occurred to you, in which case, we’re glad that you stumbled upon this guide. Keep reading to find out why reviewing your estate plan is such an important step for new empty nesters, as well as which new factors are up for evaluation.

What Are Empty Nesters?

If you are a parent and your children have grown up and moved out, you are an empty nester. Empty nesters often experience something called “empty nest syndrome,” which include feelings of sadness and loneliness. This is natural and very common; having your beloved children leave your home after many years of living together is a major transition.

Parents often become empty nesters when the last (often the youngest) of their children go off to college, or when they turn 18 and decide to move into their own apartment. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you would be an empty nester forever. There are times in which one or more of your children may return to live with you for a period of time. Regardless, it is not the same experience as having young children at home, because there is an underlying expectation that your adult children will eventually establish their own households.

This is a major transition in life. After spending years caring for your own children, your set of responsibilities suddenly changed. This may leave you at a bit of a loss on what to do when you become an empty nester.

What to Do When You Become an Empty Nester

When you first become an empty nester, you might have trouble settling in one one feeling. Sadness and loneliness might be counterbalanced with feelings of pride. Some parents would never admit this, but they might even feel a sense of relief and excitement. After all, you’ve spent decades prioritizing your children first and now you suddenly have the freedom to focus on you.

But what will you do with this newfound freedom? Here are some recommendations on how to beat empty nest syndrome and take advantage of your new stage in life. Whatever you do, don’t forget to review your estate plan.

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1. Reconnect with Friends & Establish New Communication Norms

It’s hard to keep in constant contact with your friends when you’re so busy with family. Not that you don’t have to run a full house, take your newfound time to reconnect with your friends. They are likely in similar situations, and would be happy to increase communication.

By hosting dinner parties or learning a new skill, you might even find yourself making a new set of friends who are also empty nesters!

2. Pick Up Old Hobbies or Interests

Do you have hobbies and interests that you haven’t touched in years? This is the perfect time to pick them up again. Whether it be cooking or camping, capitalize on your newfound freedom by revisiting some of the more time-intensive hobbies that you have. (New hobbies are welcome too!)

You’ll quickly begin to appreciate having the luxury of time to reconnect with yourself and your personal interests. The Active Times provides 30 more ideas on what to do when you become an empty nester.

3. Review Your Estate Plan

When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan?

If you’ve been super busy as a parent, you likely haven’t had much time to sit down and go through your estate plan in years. Any major life change serves as a great trigger to re-evaluate your estate plan to make sure it’s still accurate and effective.

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Next, we’ll talk about the specifics of why empty nesters need to review their estate plans, and some common things to look out for.

Why Review Your Estate Plan When You Become an Empty Nester?

If you first created a Will when your children were small, you might be surprised at how outdated it is today. First and foremost, you likely designated a guardian who would become responsible for their care and finances in the case that both parents died. These are safety nets that you established for your children who were minors at the time may no longer be appropriate or necessary.

Ask yourself, “how do I feel if my child(ren) inherited my entire life savings tomorrow?” Although your children are no longer minors, the idea of them receiving your entire nest egg at such a young age might send a shudder down your spine.

Now that you’ve entered a new stage in life, your asset structure may also change. Perhaps you’re considering selling your current home to move into a smaller home for retirement. Regardless of what your unique circumstances might be, odds are there will be at least one aspect of your estate plan that requires reevaluation. We provide some common examples next.

What to Review in Your Estate Plan When You Become an Empty Nester

Now that you’re an empty nester, you’ll want to make time to review your estate plan. We recommend going through all of your documents and tools and assessing whether each aspect of your estate plan is still valid, accurate, and effective. Chances are, you’ll need to update one or more items.

Here are some common aspects empty nesters should review in their estate plans:

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  • Powers of Attorney

One of the main aspects of estate planning is naming someone (your Power of Attorney) who will take care of your affairs if you were to pass away or become incapacitated. Of your children who are now adults, would you like for one of them to serve as your POA instead? Would you like to retain the same individual? Now is the perfect time to evaluate your POA.

  • Inheritances and Trusts

Earlier, we asked how you would feel if your children inherited your life savings at once. You may have set up a special Trust for your minor children, and now that they are somewhat self-sufficient, you may need to re-evaluate how you would like to pass on your inheritance to them. A revocable living Trust is a great option that will allow you to control your assets while you’re alive and continue making revisions as necessary.

  • Life Insurance and Retirement

Now is a good time to reevaluate your life insurance and retirement accounts. Perhaps you’ll want to update your life insurance policy, and you’ll certainly want to review your beneficiary designations to ensure your assets are passed along to the appropriate beneficiaries when you pass away.

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  • Health Care Directives

No one wants to think about the aging process, and the possibility of developing a cognitive disability or terminal illness. However, becoming an empty nester means that aging is a reality, and it’s important to think about how you would like to be cared for when it comes to medical circumstances. Now is the perfect time to review your health care directives, and consider if one of your adult children should play a larger role.

Review Your Estate Plan Today!

The key takeaway for empty nesters is that this is a perfect time to review and update your estate plans. Any major family milestone should serve as a trigger to review your estate planning tools, because there is almost always something that needs to be changed. In some cases, you’ll find yourself wanting to scrap your existing plan entirely and create a new one.

Going with an online estate planning service like the one offered by Trust & Will can make your life much easier. We make it easy to establish, review, and update your estate plan through every season of your life. You’ll also feel supported and guided every step of the way!

Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!


What do you write to empty nesters? ›

Look inward: I wish for you the strength to search your heart and mind for peace and comfort that you'll be OK now that you're an empty nester. Remember what's important to you and refocus on your wants and needs.

What to ask parents about estate planning? ›

How To Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning
  • Include Other Siblings.
  • Find the Right Time To Talk About Estate Planning.
  • Reasons Why You Need To Have the Talk Now.
  • Learn What Estate Planning They've Done.
  • Key Estate Planning Topics To Cover.
  • Set Long-Term Goals Together.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Jul 18, 2022

Why should you talk with loved ones about your estate plans? ›

Communicating your estate plan and ensuring your family understands your long term wishes is important. Doing so may even increase the likelihood that your estate planning is executed according to your wishes. While it can feel uncomfortable to have such discussions, relying on a team of trusted advisors can help.

What are 3 key characteristics of empty nesters? ›

Symptoms of empty nest syndrome can include depression, a sense of loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, or worry, stress, and anxiety over the child's welfare. Parents who experience empty nest syndrome often question whether or not they have prepared adequately for their child to live independently.

How do you embrace an empty nest? ›

How to deal with empty nest syndrome
  1. Make social connections. Use your free time to reconnect with old friends. ...
  2. Seek professional help. ...
  3. Set goals for the future. ...
  4. Take up a new hobby or career. ...
  5. Reconnect with your partner. ...
  6. Practice self-care. ...
  7. Focus on the positives. ...
  8. Keep in touch with your children.
Jan 13, 2022

What are the 5 key elements of a good estate plan? ›

What Are the 5 Components of Estate Planning?
  • Wills and Trusts. A common misconception is that only wealthy people need wills or trusts. ...
  • Durable Power of Attorney. ...
  • Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney. ...
  • Living Wills and Advance Directives for Medical Decisions. ...
  • Beneficiary Designations.
May 22, 2022

What are the two most important purposes of estate planning? ›

Besides making sure your assets get to the people you choose, planning can help minimize income, gift and estate taxes, too. Without an estate plan, and specifically a will, the laws in your state will determine what happens to your possessions, and the courts will decide who gets custody of your children.

What is the most important decision in estate planning? ›

A will or trust should be one of the main components of every estate plan, even if you don't have substantial assets. Wills ensure property is distributed according to an individual's wishes (if drafted according to state laws).

What are 3 estate planning questions you may want to consider either for yourself or your parents? ›

3 Critical Questions about Estate Planning that Every Parent Should Ask Themselves
  • What happens if I can't make my own choices? ...
  • Who is going to take care of my child if I can't? ...
  • How do I protect my kids with my Estate Planning?
Feb 22, 2019

What is the most important component of your estate plan? ›

Trusts and Wills

Regardless of whether you have a limited amount of money or a large fortune, wills and trusts are the most critical elements of your estate plan.

At what age do most people do estate planning? ›

The best age to make an estate plan is eighteen. The second best age is however old you are right now. You might be surprised to hear that an eighteen year old should have an estate plan. After all, most eighteen year olds have few assets and a long life ahead of them.

Why is estate trust important? ›

A Trust allows you a certain level of control over your Estate that Wills cannot provide. The structure of Trusts allows you to decide how and when your assets will be distributed. If you have young children, this can be a great way to ensure they do not receive their inheritances in one lump sum.

What is the primary purpose of a will in an estate plan? ›

A will is a legal document that provides instructions on how an individual's property and custody of minor children (if any) should be handled after death. Various strategies can be used to limit taxes on an estate, from creating trusts to making charitable donations.

Should you tell your children about your will? ›

Once you do have a will, you're under no obligation to share what it says with your children or other family members. However, talking to your kids about what's in your will can prevent potential conflict, resentment, and disappointment.

What is the average age of an empty nest? ›

What are the characteristics of empty nesters? Empty nesters are typically in their later 40s, 50s and 60s.

What is one of the midlife issues empty nest? ›

Empty nest syndrome is a psychological condition that affects both parents, results in a feeling of grief (feeling of loss, redundancy, unworthiness, and uncertainty about the future) due to their children's departure [2]. It mostly coincides with other major events in life (e.g. Menopause, illness, or retirement).

What do empty nesters want in a house? ›

Empty nesters might be willing to downsize square footage, but they want everything else upsized. For example, older adults want new homes with high-end features: hardwood floors, a high grade of carpet, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, walk-in showers, and custom cabinetry.

What are the psychological effects of empty nest? ›

The empty-nest syndrome is a psychological condition that affects both parents, who experience feelings of grief, loss, fear, inability, difficulty in adjusting roles, and change of parental relationships, when children leave the parental home.

What is the divorce rate for empty nesters? ›

The divorce rate among empty nesters has soared from 1-in-10 to 1-in-4 over the last few years According to studies, including one from the University of Louisville at Kentucky.

What does an empty nest symbolize? ›

Empty nest syndrome refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home. This condition is typically more common in women, who are more likely to have had the role of primary carer.

What are the 7 steps in the estate planning process? ›

Estate planning checklist
  • Create an inventory.
  • Account for your family's needs.
  • Establish your directives.
  • Review your beneficiaries.
  • Note your state's estate tax laws.
  • Weigh the value of professional help.
  • Plan to reassess.
Feb 13, 2023

What are the six basic steps to the estate planning process? ›

The Estate Planning Process: 6 Steps to Take
Mar 2, 2020

What are the 5 P's in real estate? ›

And in any successful property management system, there are the five P's: Plan, Process, People, Property, and Profit.

What is the difference between a will and an estate plan? ›

The difference between a will and an estate plan is that while a will is a single document, and an estate plan includes all legal documents to protect your heirs and assets while you are still alive, if you become seriously ill or incapacitated and after your death.

What leads to the breakup of an estate? ›

The estate breakup means the distribution of single items or more. The estates break up because of many reasons; which may include inflation, disabilities, lack of liquidity etc. these reasons will also lead to often break up.

What goals are accomplished by good estate planning? ›

Common Estate Planning Goals
  • Providing for Loved Ones.
  • Mitigating or Avoiding Probate.
  • Minimizing Taxes.
  • Providing for Orderly Administration & Stewardship of Property.
  • Protecting Assets.
  • Providing for Incapacity.
  • Hiring an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
Jan 10, 2019

What is the best trust for estate-planning? ›

Revocable Trusts

Commonly referred to as living trusts, revocable trusts offer an effective estate-planning tool to lower the costs and hassles of probate, preserving privacy and preparing your estate for ease of transition in the event of death or incapacity.

What are the most important things to put in a will? ›

What You Should Put in Your Will
  • Your basic personal information.
  • Legal language that declares testamentary intent.
  • Your appointed executor.
  • Your appointed guardian for any pets or minor children.
  • A list of your property and named beneficiaries (with certain exceptions)

What do the two main components of estate planning involve? ›

A good estate plan consists of many different components, including what happens to your assets and who should act on your behalf if you are unable to. At a bare minimum, there should be two main components: a last will and testament and a durable power of attorney.

What is the first step in her estate planning process? ›

The first step in the estate planning process is to create an inventory of all your assets and debts. Retirement accounts, insurance policies, property, vehicles, and other valuables should all be included in your inventory.

What is an estate planning questionnaire? ›

Planning Team. The attached Estate Planning Questionnaire* is designed to help you organize your personal and financial information, to help us effectively assess your goals and circumstances, and to enable us to recommend an estate plan that will work for you and your family.

What are the key elements of an estate plan? ›

There are six important components to an estate plan.
  • THE WILL. The first and well-known component of an estate plan is a will. ...
  • TRUSTS. ...

What are the four major components of a will? ›

Four Major Components of a Will – What are They?
  1. Inventory of Legally Owned Assets.
  2. Nominating Guardians for Your Descendants. ...
  3. Appointment of the Executor Along with Their Responsibilities. ...
  4. Information Regarding the testator. If you have not yet started planning for your estate, this is the right time for you to start. ...
Apr 27, 2022

What are the basic principles of estate planning? ›

Estate planning can be explained through three guiding principles: minimize estate and income tax consequences; avoid probate; and provide asset pro- tection for beneficiaries.

What is the best age to set up a trust? ›

There is no Ideal Time to Consider a Living Trust

Unfortunately, there is no real answer to the “right time” to create a living trust because it is not solely based on your age. Instead, wealthier people with expensive assets, regardless of age, should consider one of these documents.

Why do many people not have an estate plan? ›

Some people delay estate planning because they believe certain myths about wills—for example, that they are confusing or expensive. Others believe that they don't have enough assets to warrant writing a will.

Is estate planning for the wealthy? ›

As mentioned above, estate planning is not just for the wealthy – it's an important part of financial planning that anyone with assets or dependents should consider. For one thing, many people simply aren't aware of how much they will leave behind when they die.

What do you say to parents of empty nesters? ›

Kade offers some strategies that can help empty nesters cope:
  • Accept that their feelings are normal.
  • Acknowledge that their parenting role has changed, not ended.
  • Keep in touch with their children (calls, emails, video chats, etc.)
  • Find a new hobby or take a class.
  • Volunteer for a meaningful cause.

What is another phrase for empty nester? ›

The phrase empty nester typically refers to a parent whose children have grown up and left home. There are no categorical synonyms for this word. However, one could loosely refer to parent.
What is another word for empty nester?
lone parentsingle parent
6 more rows

At what age do most people become empty nesters? ›

What are the characteristics of empty nesters? Empty nesters are typically in their later 40s, 50s and 60s.

How long does empty-nest syndrome last? ›

Most parents adjust to their new roles as empty nesters within about 2 months. Some parents may experience symptoms for a longer period, even years, if they're also faced with other challenges, such as financial or health situations.

What is said to be empty when the kids leave home? ›

Empty nest syndrome refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home. This condition is typically more common in women, who are more likely to have had the role of primary carer.

What is the description of empty nest family? ›

Empty-Nest Family is a kind of family in which the children are not living close to the elderly and they are left living alone in the family home.

What is a good word for empty? ›

Synonyms of empty
  • devoid.
  • emptied.
  • barren.
  • vacant.
  • blank.
  • void.
  • drained.
  • vacuous.

What is a synonym for living without care? ›

living the life of Riley. nonchalant. reckless. unconcerned. untroubled.

What is one word for abandoned child? ›

A foundling is a child who's been abandoned by their parents. You might also call a foundling a "waif" — and no matter what word you use, your heart will hurt for them. While a foundling is sometimes an orphan, someone whose parents have died, foundlings are often babies whose parents aren't able to care for them.

Why do empty nesters divorce? ›

The other parent may just feel lonely because the children aren't home. Concern about the children. It's natural to be concerned about your children's education, career, and social life. Too much anxiety and worry can prevent a parent from focusing on his/her spouse and can lead to empty nest syndrome and divorce.

What are the three stages of empty nest syndrome? ›

In general, empty-nest syndrome is a process with three distinct stages: grief, relief, then joy, says social psychologist Carin Rubenstein, author of “Beyond the Mommy Years: How to Live Happily Ever After . . .

Why are empty nesters upsizing? ›

So, why are older buyers moving away from the traditional downsizing approach? In the Merrill Lynch study, retirees say a top reason for “upsizing” is to have a home that is large and comfortable enough for family members to visit and stay with them. Another reason is so family members can live with them, if needed.

What is soiling the nest syndrome? ›

Psychologists call this “soiling the nest.” It's a term that simply describes behavior teens often show during the weeks or months before they move away from home. Though this behavior is normal, that doesn't make it any less difficult for you to handle as a parent.


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