Estate planning is often neglected, but it’s a matter of practical necessity. Far too few Americans have an estate plan, and according to one recent survey, an estimated 66% of adults haven’t written a will.
Compared to other groups, younger generations are the least likely to take steps to secure their legacy. Many millennials, for instance, are still in the prime of their lives. While they might recognize the need for an estate plan, the thought of preparing for death could seem like a distant goal and one left for old age.
However, estate planning encompasses matters beyond inheritances. The right estate plan could help you protect your future health needs and wealth and better prepare you for the uncertainties of an ever-changing world.
Estate Planning Trends for Millennials
The millennial generation is special in a variety of ways, and they may create estate plans that are different from those of prior generations. Millennials are more likely to pay particular attention to societal and personal values when designing and executing an estate plan. Because millennials are focused more on education and their careers; care about volunteering and friendships; and are waiting longer to get married, they often integrate the following into their estate plans:
Protecting Digital Assets
Digital assets can include videos, music, and photos stored on an electronic device, P2P accounts, frequent flyer miles, cryptocurrencies, and any electronic asset. It’s important to leave access instructions and/or passwords with your executor.
Paying for Student Loan Debt
When a borrower dies, federal student loans are discharged. However, a private student loan lender has the right to make a claim against your estate. It’s important to have a plan for paying the debt, especially if you are leaving money to your heirs.
Pets are popular with Americans of every age and generation. However, millennials are far more likely to include their pets in their estate plans. A well-designed pet trust, for instance, allows young “pet parents” the opportunity to provide for a pet if they are no longer around to ensure its health and well-being.
Many millennials include charities and other non-government organizations as estate beneficiaries. Under the right circumstances and with the right estate plan, a charity-centered plan could also afford Millennials the opportunity to claim significant tax benefits when they are still alive.
How Estate Planning Can Benefit American Millennials
An estate plan should include contingencies that protect its creator in the event they are incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. The right estate plan could help you:
A comprehensive estate plan should include provisions for the financial and health care powers of attorney. These powers of attorney allow the testator to designate a special agent to make financial and medical decisions in the event they are ever incapacitated.
Create Peace of Mind
Millennials who have families need to take the right steps to ensure their loved ones are protected in the event of an unexpected tragedy. An estate plan could let young parents nominate a guardian for their children, condition responsible inheritances, and even reduce their financial liabilities in the event of divorce or bankruptcy.
Estate plans may serve a wide range of functions, but preventing intestacy is among their most critical. If a California resident dies without an estate plan, the court will likely find that they have died intestate. During intestacy proceedings, the court allocates the deceased person’s assets according to a strict legal formula—a formula that almost exclusively privileges close blood relations and could preclude inheritance rights to people you had intended to name as heirs.
Exercise Caution With Do-it-Yourself Estate Plans
Millennials have made significant contributions to the development of the modern internet. Today, it is possible to find information about almost anything online—and that includes estate plans.
However, estate planning is a sensitive undertaking. While countless websites offer do-it-yourself wills and supposedly self-executing trust documents, homemade estate plans are almost always vulnerable to challenge and oversight. California, for example, has very specific and stringent requirements for the writing of wills and execution of trusts. If these requirements are not carefully enacted, the entire estate plan could collapse under the weight of a single irregularity.
Do You Need to Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney?
If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call us directly at 800.756.5596 to first register for one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a special discount for our estate planning services should you decide to make a free appointment at the conclusion of the seminar and choose to proceed with us. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.