Ruth-Ann E. Toups
What Millennials Need to Know About Estate Planning
Everyone needs a will. If I had a dollar for every time a millennial has told me they do not need a will because “I don’t have anything” or “I’m too young to need a will” I would be a rich woman. I often discover that “I don’t have anything” translates to “I don’t think I have enough.” If you have a bank account, or a car, or a house, or a pet, or an employer sponsored retirement plan, or a life insurance policy, you have something. Although we would like to believe we are invincible, young people pass away too, and often leave complicated estates. A will is not just about what you own, but also about what you owe, and the loved ones in your life. Get a will.
Everyone needs a power of attorney. Have you ever had the flu? I have, and one of the few things I can remember from that terrible week is barely being able to physically move, much less pay my bills or call the cable company. What would happen if you were temporarily incapacitated? Does someone have the authority to help you pay your bills, talk to companies on your behalf, make medical decisions for you? If you don’t have a power of attorney, the answer is no. I recommend that everyone over the age of 18 have a power of attorney in place, for emergencies and inconveniences.
Don’t forget to review your beneficiary designations annually. Most of my clients’ estate planning is done by beneficiary designation. Your 401(k), IRA, life insurance policies, maybe your bank account, and other financial assets usually have a named beneficiary. Beneficiary designations control those individual accounts, despite what any subsequent will might say. When I meet with clients, I often find they have not reviewed their beneficiary designations since opening their accounts. Often, we have moms, dads, siblings, minor children, perhaps ex-spouses on accounts. I recommend an annual review of your beneficiary designations to make sure they line up with life changes.
It’s also a good idea while reviewing your beneficiary designations to keep an updated list of where your things are so that a loved one would know where to look if something happened to you.
Make sure someone can access your online assets, if needed. More and more of our lives are digital. Be sure that you keep access information for your digital life somewhere. Be sure you are thinking about security when storing this information. This is one area where old-school pen and paper may be best.
Now is a great time to develop professional relationships. Throughout your life you will need to rely on the advice of professionals, such as a financial advisor, a CPA, and an attorney. Take the time now to develop meaningful relationships and create your own personal team. While the internet gives us easier access to information more than ever, a trusted individual you can reach out to will always give you the best, personalized advice.