It doesn’t matter which generation you belong to, when it comes to estate planning. If you pass away without an estate plan, it is likely the people you love will face many trying days of tough decisions attempting to straighten out your estate, according to the Chicago Tribune in “Family Finances: Even millennials need an estate plan.”
A will details how you want assets distributed after death. It names an executor to handle those assets. Without a will, you are dying “intestate” and the state will decide how to distribute your property and funds. If you aren’t married and don’t have any children, most states will start with your parents. However, if you have a will, the entire process becomes much easier.
There are two documents that are even more important than a will for a single healthy millennial. The first is a Power of Attorney. Through this legal document you appoint the person who is empowered to make decisions about financial matters on your behalf, if you cannot. It’s for when you are incapacitated, by illness or injury, and also if you are unavailable for other reasons, like if you are travelling.
The second document is called an advance medical directive, in NY & CT it is a Health Care Proxy. This document defines your end-of-life wishes about medical treatment. The person you name will be able to carry out health related decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. This is unpleasant, but necessary to address. If you don’t designate a health care agent or fall into a persistent vegetative state, you will probably be kept alive artificially by default. This may not be what you want, but if no one has the legal document telling them what you wanted, then this is what happens.
What happens to your digital assets when you die? Facebook now has a default where it memorializes your account, and you can appoint a legacy contact or direct Facebook to delete the account, if that is your preference. Google now lets you choose up to ten trusted contacts who can download data from your Gmail, photos and more, if you become inactive for a certain period of time. Most states have now enacted laws that govern how an executor can access your digital assets, but you still have to tell the platforms, one at a time, what your wishes are.
Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are another aspect of millennial life that have to be addressed in advance, if they are not going to disappear completely when you die.
Estate planning documents are governed by state law, so it would probably be a good idea to meet with a local estate planning attorney to advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances.
Resource: Chicago Tribune (Oct. 9, 2018 “Family Finances: Even millennials need an estate plan”