Millennials and Gen X, listen up. Estate planning is not merely for the elderly.
Covid has taught us that, if nothing else. Consider that one-fourth of the 800,000 Covid deaths have been people younger than 65.
Many more young adults have had Covid, survived, and are now dealing with the long-term effects. There were 8.7 million diagnosed cases for adults aged 18 to 29, and over 12 million for adults aged 30 to 49.
Even if you were one of the lucky ones, you know this whole pandemic has been downright scary. Your youth will no longer protect you.
And yet……. 79% of millennials (ages 18-36) do not have a will. Even more surprising, 64% of Generation X (ages 37 to 52) are right there with them.
Well, enough is enough. It’s time. Time to create a will and those important ancillary documents. Time to think about life insurance and beneficiary designations. Time to put contingency plans in place for your spouse, kids, and pets.
It’s time to get serious.
Planning for Children
If you have minor children, then you need to set up a trust so there will be someone to invest their money and distribute it for their benefit. You need to plan how the trust will be funded: inheritance, life insurance, social security. You should appoint someone to be your children’s guardian so that they have a home and someone to enroll them in school, make their medical decisions and be a stand-in parent.
Planning for Pets
If you have pets, then you should consider setting up a pet trust. The trust names a trustee to supervise your pet’s care and gives a resource for funds to take care of your pet.
Planning for Finances
You need a will that names an executor and give instructions on how your debts should be paid and your assets disbursed when you do.
You need to decide who will get your bank accounts and investments when you die. You can name a beneficiary, own the account with a right of survivorship, or leave it to your estate (which means it will be distributed according to your will).
Planning for Social Media Accounts
You need to make provisions for all your social media accounts. Google and Meta (this year’s name for Facebook) offer a setting where you can specify who can access your account when you die. Apple just added a Legacy Contact setting in its IOS 15.2 release that does the same thing. You have a lot of other passwords; you need to set up a password manager and then plan for a designated agent to have that login information. You need to make sure someone can access your computer and digital currency.
Powers of Attorney & Agents
You need powers of attorney that name an agent to make your financial and medical decisions in case you are incapacitated. You need a global HIPAA release so your family or agents can get your medical information.
You need to have “that conversation” with your family and agents about your wishes in the event you end up on a ventilator with a feeding tube. You need to complete a directive to physicians that is legal in your state.
If your employer offers benefits, then you need to review them and fill out all the necessary paperwork.
You need to name a burial agent and leave instructions about cremation, burial, or body donation.
Do you really need all of this? Yes. You’ve played the odds for your entire life, but you are one diagnosis away from reality hitting you in the face.
Hammerle Finley Can Help With Your Estate Planning Needs
Virginia Hammerle is an attorney with Hammerle Finley Law Firm. She is entering her 40th year in the practice of law. She is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal specialization. Contact email@example.com to receive her firm’s newsletter.