I had a great-uncle who never married and had no children. He had several nieces and nephews, but my mother was the one who was willing to take on his end-of-life responsibilities. One of her cousins helped with the actual physical stuff-- actually physically moving his things, and soforth, but my mother was the sole executor of his estate. It turned out he had more than people realized, and he left quite a but to me. I wrote letters to him (he was never online) on a regular basis, and had done so since I was in high school-- not terribly frequently, maybe three times a year, plus birthday cards, but I read the ones he sent me, and responded to everything, and kept him updated with pictures of everyone, which he especially liked after he got to the point where traveling was difficult for him. My mother sent him letters too. I don’t think my brother did, but he sent him holiday cards and birthday cards.
So he ended up leaving almost everything he had to my mother, with some to my brother and me, and a little to my mother’s cousin, who had visited him a few times in the last years of his life. He didn’t leave anything to anyone else, including my grandmother, his only surviving sibling. But I guess she didn’t keep in touch with him much either. She used to call him on the phone a lot, but in the last maybe seven years, his hearing was failing, so she gave up on that. My grandmother was not a letter writer, and she WAS online, and didn’t have a lot of patience with elderly people who thought computers were too hard for them. She learned them, so she figured anyone could.
It was a big surprise to me, and really helped, because I was driving a 22-year-old car. I am now driving a 2-year-old car. The 22-year-old car was in good shape for its age, but, still. It’s so nice having a car under warranty. It’s my first totally new car, and I paid for it outright; no payments.
My mother was also his health care proxy-- power of attorney, and soforth.
Anyway, I’m just saying, an unexpected legacy will not be forgotten by the people who receive it. And a niece or nephew will probably not begrudge doing this for you, but you can make it as easy as possible by having all your paperwork in order.
My uncle was a bit disorganized, and my mother kept finding stuff, just when she thought she had everything done. She also thought she’d gotten everything for his taxes, and submitted them to her accountant, then she discovered there was more than she had to track down, and the accountant had already started on the work, so she had to go back and redo stuff, which upped the billable hours.
My mother had her stuff squared away when she died. She learned from managing my uncle’s estate, that she’d be doing my brother (her executor) a big favor by having everything organized and in one place. Also, she had a clear and up-to-date will, so there were no questions.
One thing to remember is that powers of attorney expire upon death, so you will need to make very clear what you want done with your remains, and what you want in terms of a service, and have separate paperwork appointing someone to manage that. When my FIL died, his longtime partner had a durable power of attorney to make medical decisions for him if he was incapacitated (which he was for about a week), and she made decisions about pain medications, nutrition, hydration, and signed his DNR. But once he was dead, she was not allowed to authorize his cremation, so she had to contact DH and fax him papers, then get him to fax them back, so she could have his remains disposed of the way he wanted.
Good luck to you.