One of the last things on the mind of most millennials is death. Typically their thoughts and plans center on other things. Most of them probably feel that estate planning is to be done when they are in middle age at the earliest.
But that is a huge mistake. Many millennials have just as much, if not more, to lose than everyone else. This is especially true if they pass away leaving children, spouses, partners, or other loved ones behind.
In fact, I believe millennials need an estate plan if they have assets of any value they would leave behind in death.
Why Millennials Don’t Estate Plan
Although many people feel that millennials are not good money managers the opposite is often true. They are forced to be good with money when they struggle with huge amounts of student loan debt the moment they graduate from college.
But it seems that millennials then turn their thoughts and attention toward building their careers and paying off debt. Their remaining time is often consumed with marriage, kids, travel, and purchasing their first home.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that departing from this earth is one of the last things on their minds. This is particularly true considering their general feelings about time.
Most think that they have many years ahead of them to invest and strategize for retirement so they put that planning on hold. In their minds, middle age is when those needs should be addressed.
To them, middle age is a far and distant thing that is far into their future. So, they concentrate on the here and now forgetting about what may come down life’s winding road.
Why Millennials Need an Estate Plan
Prepare for the Unexpected
Obviously millennials need an estate plan in order to prepare for the unexpected. They should have a savings plan in place, pay down debts, and budget their money.
However, if they are already doing that the next step is to set up an estate plan to prepare for the unexpected. Estate planning allows them to decide how their affairs should be handled should something happen to end their life prematurely or disable them.
Care for Those Left Behind
Of course, no millennial wants to dwell on the subject of death or incapacitation. However, it is important that they have plans in place for those they leave behind.
Whether or not their loved ones include a spouse or children, millennials should take the steps necessary to care for them. Caring includes ensuring their assets and belongings are appropriately distributed.
Millennials should have provisions for disability including both medical and financial durable power of attorney. In addition, health care advance directives need to be completed.
Other documents include a last will and testament and possibly a trust. Investments and 401K’s should have beneficiaries assigned.
Even if millennials have loved ones that don’t directly depend on them financially or otherwise, they should make provisions for their assets. Frequently younger people feel that they don’t yet own any assets.
But closely examining what they do have sometimes indicates otherwise. For example, even at a young age they probably have a car and possibly at least one retirement account. They may also have a life insurance policy, real estate, recreational vehicles, jewelry, electronics, and furnishings.
Some of the most concerning assets to family and friends, though, are items of memorabilia. They usually don’t carry a lot of monetary value, but the sentimental value can be high.
The fate of pets and digital assets may also need to be determined. This can include photographs stored through Facebook or other social media sites.
How to Convince Millennials to Get an Estate Plan
One of the oldest English proverbs is the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” So it is with millennials who have no wish to create an estate plan.
The duty of parents and loved ones is to impress upon them the reasons why estate planning is important. They need to know that the unthinkable does actually happen to some millennials.
Estate planning allows them to decide how their affairs should be handled even after they are gone. Therefore, it is kind of like insurance but not against death itself. It’s insurance against what they leave behind being mishandled by the rest of us.
Provided millennials will actually seek legal counsel they should be informed by their attorney of the risks of not doing estate planning. Attorneys should inform them that estate planning provides assurance that their final wishes will be carried out.
Furthermore, the attorney needs to establish a long standing relationship with their young clients. As the lives of millennials change and evolve, the estate plan should be updated.
Nobody, including millennials, wants to think about their own mortality. Nevertheless, everyone faces death at some point since nobody yet has found a way to become immortal. Consequently, millennials need to come to terms with that and create an estate plan.
Have you completed your own estate plan yet?