I’m twenty-four. I don’t have a home, a family I support, or any of the assets I typically see in an estate plan. On top of that, I’m young and plan to live at least into my sixties, so what is the point in investing in an estate plan? Over the past year learning more about wills, trusts, and planning for incapacity, this question has been looming in the back of my mind. Should I have a plan?
For many people who attain adulthood, it seems taboo to start planning for death until at least your mid to late thirties or until you have children—whichever comes first. But for millennials, planning for what seems inconceivable may be the most important thing to do. There’s a common misconception that an estate plan is just a will or a trust. It’s easy to overlook the fact that a typical plan will include a Health Care Directive (living will) or Power of Attorney that can name someone to dictate medical and financial decisions in the unfortunate event of incapacity.
Even though research has suggested that millennials start making big decisions in their lives later than what previous generations have done, there are still reasons for those in their twenties and thirties to consider devising such a plan.
Millenials like to travel.
As I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feed, I see my friends taking advantage of their youth and freedom with vacations they will remember for a lifetime. They’re doing really cool, yet dangerous stunts: rope swinging, skydiving, and bungee jumping to name a few. These are all things that they have to sign liability waivers for and with signing that kind of waiver there is no guarantee for 100% safety. That’s the thrill of it.
Before going on vacations or chasing the thrill of adventure, an estate plan can provide more security for millennials and those they love. Even if there is no house, it is important to consider what would happen to the car, the memorabilia that means everything, or the furniture in an apartment. This would be something that a simple Will could cover, putting everyone at ease.
In the unfortunate event that an accident may happen, the health care directive and power of attorney put in place would give family or friends the license to continue paying bills and to make decisions that most align with the millennials specified wishes.
Millenials are the largest population to own pets.
According to the Washington Post, it seems that “pets are becoming a replacement for children”. With this mindset of pets becoming family members, it is important to consider what may happen to that pet in the unfortunate circumstance of death or incapacitation. Studies have shown that millennials invest more time and money in their pets during life. It is important to do the same when considering death. Having a plan in place would certainly provide more of a safeguard that the pet ends up in a happy and loving home.
Millenials Dominate Social Media.
Whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, most millennials occupy a lot of social media. For Facebook, rather than deleting an account after death, a family member has the option to memorialize the account. This can lead to issues of managing the account and even saving pictures. Most Wills these days have a provision that provides a Personal Representative or Executor with the ability to run the account however may be best for your family. This includes deleting the account on social media. More law firms are also having clients sign a Digital Authorization Form that allows the person named to have access to any electronically stored information. In a digital age, access like this is something that is often overlooked until it is too late.
With debt from student loans, many believe millennials to be the most financially responsible generation for saving money and investing. Even if a millennial is yet to have a job that provides retirement or a life insurance policy, or they haven’t obtained assets that are typical to estate planning, the value of an estate plan is an investment worth making. At twenty-four, I’m trying to make decisions to set myself up for success and having an executed estate plan is doing exactly that.