If the Covid-19 pandemic has left one lasting lesson, it is that the future really is uncertain. In the span of weeks, a virus can swarm the world and put everyone’s lives at risk. In light of this, planning for the unknown becomes essential. Every adult, no matter their age, needs to have basic estate planning documents in place and as one’s life grows, expands, and develops, their estate plan needs to adjust accordingly. Estate planning for millennials means having advance directives and a simple will in place (at the very least). Boomers will need a more robust plan, and even members of Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010) need to start thinking about estate planning as soon as they reach the age of majority.
1. Essential Documents When You Turn 18
Most new high school grads don’t realize that as soon as they reach the age of majority, their parents lose the ability to intervene on their behalf in financial and healthcare-related matters. To stay protected, all young adults need to have a general power of attorney and a healthcare directive in place. In addition, those who wish their assets to pass to anyone other than their parents should consider executing a simple will.
2. Committing to a Partner
As soon as you marry or commit to sharing your life with a partner, you want to build an estate plan that recognizes this union. Most people will want their spouse to be a joint owner of shared assets, primary beneficiary, and fiduciary (or the person entrusted to handle financial and medical decisions on your behalf when needed). This means writing (or updating) a will and revising the power of attorney, healthcare directive, and beneficiary designations. Besides, at this stage of life, you want to start tracking your assets in case your spouse or family should require access to your accounts.
3. Having Children
Most millennials, or those born between 1980 and 1995, are well into the years where people commonly have children which means that estate planning for millennials is especially important. When children arrive, parents need to update their wills with guardianship designations which determine who will take over should the unthinkable happen. Also, they may want to consider a revocable living trust which both guarantees the smooth transfer of assets to loved ones and the continued administration of the estate in the children’s best interest.
4. Approaching Retirement
Just as many millennials have arrived at an age where having children is common, many boomers are at an age where they have already or will soon retire. Defined as the generation born between 1946 and 1964, these folks want to ensure they have a robust plan in place. This includes advance directives, a will, and in many cases, a trust that ensures loved ones are spared the burden of going through probate when it comes times to distribute your assets.
Planning your estate as you prepare for retirement also means organizing your finances to minimize taxes and instituting a plan to ensure you can afford long-term care should you one day need it.
Lastly, your golden years are the time to sit down with loved ones and ensure everyone understands how you wish to distribute your assets and who you plan to entrust with the roles of executor or administrator, healthcare representative, and financial power of attorney.
Estate planning for millennials and their predecessors, Generation Z, may seem pre-emptive but the truth is it’s never too early to begin and, as Covid-19 has shown, it can easily be too late.
If you are ready to begin planning your estate or simply have questions about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Deliberato Law Center either by calling (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center