As someone in your 20s or 30s, estate planning is likely a new item on your list of priorities. As you build a career, family, and life of your own, it becomes increasingly important to make sure you protect what matters most.
While certain considerations are relevant regardless of the age at which you put together an estate plan, there are some factors that are particularly relevant for individuals in their 20s and 30s. If you are a millennial and you are beginning to think about the estate planning process, here are 10 key considerations to keep in mind:
Why Should You Have an Estate Plan in Your 20s and 30s?
1. Your Retirement Plan
Whether you have a retirement plan through your employer or you are independently contributing to an IRA or other investment account, your retirement plan could be one of your most valuable assets – if not now, then in the future. Although you probably selected a beneficiary when you established your plan, there are additional factors you will want to consider to make sure you adequately protect your nest egg.
2. Your Insurance and Benefits
Do you have a life insurance policy? If so, do you know how much coverage you have (and is it enough)? Do you know what would happen to your family if you lost your health insurance or other benefits? These are commonly-overlooked issues that can have a significant impact in the event of an unexpected tragedy.
3. Your Home
If you own your home, you will want to make sure you decide who should receive title in the event of your death. Without an estate plan, your home (and other assets) will be distributed according to the law of intestate succession.
4.Your Personal Property
Even if you are satisfied with the distribution under the law of intestate succession, the law may not cater to all of your wishes. The law of intestate succession determines what percentages of your assets go to which family members, but it does not determine which specific assets go to which specific individuals. To ensure that your estate plan reflects your final wishes, you will want to make sure that it is comprehensive as possible.
5. Your Family Circumstances
Different family circumstances call for different estate planning strategies; and, if you are in your 20s or 30s, your family circumstances could change significantly over time. When preparing your estate plan, in addition to being as comprehensive as possible, you will also want to be sure to retain adequate flexibility to modify your plan as necessary.
6. Your Philanthropic Goals
Philanthropic giving is increasingly taking on a central role in the estate planning process, with many younger individuals and couples leading the charge. If you have charitable aspirations you will want to cover those in your estate plan.
7. Your Online Presence
What happens to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts when you die? This, too, is quickly becoming a key estate planning consideration. Even if you simply want to have your accounts closed (which is common), you will need to appoint someone to handle this task for you.
8. Your Digital Assets
Do you own Bitcoin or another digital currency? Do you own domain names? Do you have photographs or other files stored online? In addition to planning for the distribution of your physical assets, you will need to plan for the distribution of your digital assets as well. In addition to deciding who gets what, this also means ensuring that the appropriate person (your personal representative or trustee) will be able to access your accounts in your absence.
9. Your Health
In addition to planning for the distribution of your assets, another significant aspect of estate planning involves planning for the event of incapacity. If you were to become incapacitated due to a catastrophic injury or illness, who would make medical and financial decisions on your behalf? There are a variety of estate planning tools (such as powers of attorney and advance health care directives) that are specifically addressed to answer this type of question.
10. Your Children
Finally, if you have children, or if you may have children in the future, you can use your estate plan to proactively provide for your children’s needs in the event of your untimely death. Typically, this involves (i) appointing a guardian who will care for your children, and (ii) ensuring that your children and their guardian have adequate financial resources through the establishment of a trust or use of other estate planning tools. As with designating a power of attorney, appointing a guardian is a decision best made with the appointee’s knowledge and consent, as you will want to be sure that the person you choose is willing and able to step into the role.
Do You Need an Estate Plan?
So, do you need an estate plan? If any of the issues we discussed above are important to you, then the answer is almost certainly, “Yes.” However, the reality is that there are plenty of reasons for everyone to have an estate plan regardless of age, health, or financial stature; and, in many cases, a simple estate plan will be completely adequate. That said, estate planning is a highly-personalized process, and it is important to make sure you walk through all of the relevant issues with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Speak with a Wausau, WI Estate Planning Lawyer in Confidence
If you are a millennial living in the Wausau, WI area and would like more information about putting together an estate plan, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To discuss your personal circumstances with an experienced estate planning attorney at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C., please call (715) 842-2291 or request an appointment online today.